Bodies of three men recovered off the coastline of the Wirral and Blackpool

THE bodies of three men have been recovered from the coastline off the Wirral and Blackpool over the weekend.

North Wales Police have been in contact with colleagues from both Merseyside and Lancashire police, and are awaiting the outcome of the Home Office post mortem examinations.

A spokesperson for the force said: “The families of the missing crew members from the vessel ‘Nicola Faith’ have been kept informed, and continue to be supported by specialist officers.

North Wales Chronicle: The liferaft for fishing vessel Nicola Faith has been recovered. Pictue: MAIBThe liferaft for fishing vessel Nicola Faith has been recovered. Pictue: MAIB

“We would request that they are given the necessary privacy at this difficult time.”

Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine 39, and Alan Minard, 20 went missing from Rhos-on-Sea Harbour on January 27. A major two-day search and rescue operation was carried for the men on January 28 and 29.

The family launched a huge fundraising drive to conduct a private search for the vessel. More than £55,000 has been raised.

The family have been in contact with David Mearns, an American marine scientist who found wreckage of the plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala in 2019. It is hoped Mr Mearns will join the hunt. 

The oceanographer told the BBC: “So far I’ve been providing the families with technical advice about how to search for the boat and the best way to raise the funding to pay for it.”

North Wales Chronicle:

Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine 39, and Alan Minard, 20. Picture: JustGiving 

A probe into the disappearance of the vessel is being carried out by the UK Government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).

Giving an update on Friday, March 5, a spokesperson from the MAIB said: “The liferaft for fishing vessel Nicola Faith which went missing off the coast of Colwyn Bay on January 27 has been recovered.

“The raft was found off the coast of Kirkcudbrightshire by HM Coastguard and has been positively identified by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch as being from the Nicola Faith. The raft will be transported to the MAIB in Southampton for further investigation and analysis.

“The investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding the vessel’s loss is ongoing.

“The search for the vessel, which is being co-ordinated by the MAIB, is continuing. The MAIB has been working with underwater search experts to cover a wide area including all of the vessel’s historic operating area.

“The next of kin have been informed of this development.”

It has been more than six weeks since the men, and vessel the Nicola Faith, went missing.

A statement on the fundraising page said: “Not knowing is one of the hardest parts to deal with as it leaves the families with so many unanswered questions.

“Closure is critical to enable the family’s to move forward, remember the good times rather than worry about what happened on that fateful day.

“The search will not be cheap hence the fundraising target but every little will help. We will make sure it does.”

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey