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Vernicos Alexia

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The VERNICOS ALEXIA is one of three near-identical tug boats wrecked at Aber Llong, west of Solva, in October 1981, while on route from Liverpool to Greece.

Event and Historical Information:
The VERNICOS ALEXIA was a steel tug built by Cammell Laird & Co Ltd at Birkenhead in 1960. Technical and configuration specifications are given as 237gt; 195ft length 5in x 26ft breadth x 10ft 3in depth; screw propulsion powered by a 6-cylinder oil engine producing 1088hp; machinery by Ruston & Hornsby, Lincoln. The tug had two previous changes of name during its service life -ex-(FORMBY) ex-(WEATHER COCK '70).

When owned by the Liverpool Screw Towage Company (or Alexander Towing Co Ltd, sources differ), the three tugs had been named PEACOCK, HEATH COCK and WEATHER COCK. They had been purchased by the Vernicos company and renamed VERNICOS GEORGIS (or GIORGIS) (see NPRN 273259), VERNICOS BARBARA IV (see NPRN 273261) and VERNICOS ALEXIA. The tugs were on their delivery voyage with the VERNICOS GEORGIS acting as the tow.

The VERNICOS GEORGIS broke down off Saint David's Head. Whilst attempting to carry out repairs, the 800m towing cable fouled the propeller, leaving all three tugs without power. As the wind increased, a group of divers were sent out to help free the propellor but failed to find the three tugs in the dark. The tugs went onshore on 18 October 1981, 0.75 miles west of Solva. The Saint David's lifeboat saved three crew from the VERNICOS GEORGIS, a Sea King helicopter from RAF Brawdy airlifted the remaining survivors to safety.

On 20 October 1981, Lloyds List reported that the VERNICOS GEORGIS was ashore holed, but that the two other tugs were still afloat and attached to the tow. On 21 and 22 October 1981, Lloyds List reported that the VERNICOS GIORGIS and the VERNICOS ALEXIA had been declared total losses, but that the VERNICOS BARBARA IV might yet be saved. The VERNICOS BARBARA IV had ended up on a relatively sheltered beach. Lloyds List also noted that Ocean Dynamics of Solva were carrying out the salvage work, under the direction of the Receiver of Wreck. On 17 December 1981, Lloyds List reported that the tugs were still lying in the same positions and their future was unknown. On 24 April 1982, Lloyds List reported that equipment had been salvaged and that the wrecks were to be auctioned off.

RCAHMW survey in June 2022 allowed the creation of a digital 3D model of the site here




Sources include:

Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002
Lloyd's Register Casualty Returns, 1 October - 31 December 1981, p.90
Lloyds List, 20-22 October 1981, 7 December 1981 and 24 April 1982
Lloyds Register of British and Foreign Shipping 1 July 1979 - 1 June 1980, number 5387154
Ships Monthly, April 2007, pg25
UK Hydrographic Office Wrecks and Obstructions Database. ? Crown Copyright and database rights. Reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office and the UK Hydrographic Office (
Vernicos Alexia, Wreck Site EU

J.Whitewright, RCAHMW, June 2022

This record was enhanced in 2020 with funding from Lloyd's Register Foundation as part of the project ‘Making the Link: Lloyd's Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales’. Visit Lloyd’s Register Foundation Heritage and Education Centre for more resources.

CHERISH PROJECT 2017. Produced with EU funds through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014-2020.