The steel steam side-trawler Elinor Viking was launched from the Aberdeen yard of John Lewis and Sons Ltd (Yard No 388) on 20th August 1974. She measured 24.18m x 6.79m x 2.8m and her tonnage was 122 gross tons, 45 net tons. She was powered by a 4SA 6 cylinder diesel engine by Mirrlees Blackstone Ltd., Stamford delivering 636 brake horse power. Ordered by Claben Ltd (John Brown and Son Ltd ) Aberdeen she was registered in this port A278.
On 8th December 1977 she was operating in the waters around Shetland under the command of her skipper Alex Flett who had a crew of seven Aberdeen men aboard. The story of her stranding is not remarkable, swept onto the jagged rocks of Vee Skerries in a violent storm, but the story of the subsequent rescue is remarkable.
On receipt of the distress message from the trawler a British Airways helicopter, a coastguard helicopter and an RAF Nimrod were dispatched to the scene in horrendous weather conditions. In the British Airways control centre at Sumburgh airport a makeshift crew was pulled together by three pilots who happened to be in the control room when the distress message was received at the time. Captains George Bain, Campbell Bosanquet, Alasdair Campbell and helicopter controller Brian Johnstone immediately volunteered to attempt a rescue and took off heading towards the site of the wreck in terrible weather. The first task was to actually locate the Elinor Viking following messages relayed from nearby trawlers who had also responded to the distress calls. When they succeeded in reaching the site of the wreck four miles west of Papa Stour the outlook for the crew aboard the trawler was not good. The wreck of the Elinor Viking was very close to the site of the wreck of the Ben Doran forty years earlier when the crew had clung to the wreck of their trawler only to be washed away and lost one buy one as waves battered their vessel on the same rocks.
Aboard Bravo Juliet pilot Captain George Bain and his co-pilot Captain Campbell Bosanquet skilfully manoeuvred the helicopter above the stranded trawler as it was continually swept by huge waves, and Alasdair Campbell who bravely agreed to be lowered on a winch line down to the Elinor Viking. In pitch darkness with spray rising 50 or 60 feet into the air the helicopter hovered above the wreck and, with the scene lit by only flares dropped by the circling Nimrod, one by one Campbell pulled the crewmen up into the safety of the helicopter which then transferred them to Sumburgh.
The Elinor Viking became a total wreck, finally sliding off the rocks and sinking in deep water. Her remains lie in position 60° 22.466’N, 001° 48.612’W in depths up to 20 metres. The wreckage lies on the east side of the reef named Reaerach in the Vee Skerries. We have no recent reports of dives on the site so are unable to provide more detail of current status of wreck.