Russia remembers wrecked factory ship

Lifeboats News Release

At Tarbert Farm on Sunday 18 December, on the island of Gigha, a memorial with plaque was unveiled to the memory of the four Russian crew members who lost their lives when their factory ship, Kartli, was severely damaged by a freak wave 25 years ago to the day.

RNLI/Henry Weaver

Coxswain David MacLellan (left)

Islay’s RNLI lifeboat crew, the local RNLI chairman and the Deputy Launching Officer all attended the event.

The Consul General of the Russian Federation, Andrey A. Pritsepov and the Lord Lieutenant of Argyll officiated at the service of remembrance and unveiling of a plaque on a cairn erected overlooking the bay where the Kartli finally ran aground.

Representatives of the rescue services that had worked so hard to save the lives of the ship’s 50 strong crew, and to bring the bodies ashore, at that time, were joined by the islanders of Gigha, and Russians connected to the tragedy in church and at the cairn to receive not only very warm words of appreciation and thanks from the Consul General but to also receive commemorative medals at the Gigha Hotel afterwards.

Coxswain David MacLellan had been a young member of Islay’s RNLI Thames class lifeboat Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit that terrible night . The Consul General asked David to describe the conditions at that time.

‘You can only imagine the horrors of the crew as they drifted helplessly in those dark and fearsome conditions with the vessel completely disabled and unable to radio for help, and not knowing if anybody had seen their distress flares’, David said, giving a succinct but graphic account to the Consul General.

This event highlights the selflessness of the volunteer members the RNLI crew and all the other rescue services but also shows that their efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated, even after 25 years.

RNLI media contacts: Heather Dewar, RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer at Islay, on 01496 840600 (H) and Islay lifeboat station on 01496 840608, email

Or Richard Smith, RNLI Public Relations Manager Scotland on 01738 642956, 07786 668903 or

Or Henry Weaver, RNLI Press Officer for Scotland, 01738 642946, 07771 943026,

Or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789.

RNLI/Henry Weaver


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