A fishing boat which went missing along with its three crew members has been raised from the seabed.
The wreck of the sunken Nicola Faith was recovered from the sea off the coast of Colwyn Bay, North Wales, by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine 39, and Alan Minard, 20, were on board the vessel when it left Conwy on January 27 and their bodies were found off Wirral and Blackpool in March.
A spokesman for the MAIB said the boat would be transported to a secure location for further investigation, testing and stability analysis.
A remotely operated vehicle was initially used to conduct a final survey of Nicola Faith in the position in which it came to rest on the seabed and evidence including fishing equipment and outlying debris was mapped and collected from the area around it, the spokesman said.
It is thought the information could be crucial in helping investigators understand what led to the boat’s capsize.
The boat was raised using a 43-metre long crane barge and placed on the deck of an adjacent ship ready for transportation.
Chief inspector of marine accidents Captain Andrew Moll said: “This operation needed to be meticulously planned and executed to ensure that valuable evidence was conserved.
“We are pleased to have achieved that and successfully recovered Nicola Faith.
“The purpose of our investigation is to improve safety.
“The next phase of the investigation will be to establish what events led to the vessel’s capsize, the mechanics of how the vessel sunk and why.
“Once the investigation is complete a report which details the findings will be prepared and published.
“As well as providing the families with an explanation, our report will aim to prevent such a tragic accident recurring.”
A major search was launched when the boat first failed to return but was stood down two days after the disappearance when nothing was found.
Aberconwy Senedd member Jane Finch-Saunders said: “This operation is a significant step towards a conclusion in the investigation, which we hope will provide some much-needed answers.
“With the MAIB undertaking exceptional actions to raise the boat, the families and our community can turn to healing and remembrance for those we have lost.
“This has been an investigation like no other. In placing party politics aside for the common good, cooperation between the Welsh Government and I ensured an unprecedented and rapid response which resulted in the Rhodri Morgan research vessel being utilised to help locate the Nicola Faith.
“For her part in this work, I would like to sincerely thank Lesley Griffiths MS as well as her department’s officials.
“I should also like to place on record my gratitude to the MAIB inspectors who have ensured that the families remained updated throughout and during meetings with my office.”