Saturday, 20 January 2007

The Vaila Disaster, 1956

On 6 January 1957, the Fisheries Protection cruiser Vaila ran aground on Eilean Iubhard, just south of Lemreway in South Lochs at 5.30 am. As the vessel became stuck fast on the rocks, the captain ordered to abandon ship. Three lifeboats were launched, of which two got away safely. The third got fouled and turned over, and several crew ended up in the water. Although the captain was saved, five crew drowned that day. Survivors were brought ashore in Stornoway
The Vaila started life as the Royal Navy Minesweeper HMS Acacia, built at a yard in Ardrossan in 1940. She took part in the Normandy landings off Sword Beach. In 1948, she became the Vaila.
Poignantly, when the news came through to Stornoway that the Vaila had sunk, at 8 am that morning, the authorities were not aware that 5 crew had drowned in the waters of Loch Shell. They thought all would be safe, as they were in fairly calm waters. Lifeboat was proceeding to the scene.

Source: National Archive for Scotland through Google.