A statement from the Albert Dock authorities said that Planet cannot stay in either Albert Dock or Canning Dock and will be removed to Salford.
However, the ship’s supporters from across the world are fighting back, supported by Judith Feather, Liverpool Culture Company’s maritime supremo.
Planet’s owner Gary McClarnan claims that Ms Feather, head of marine events, told him that it is not necessary for Planet to go to Salford because of inadequate infrastructure here. (inadequate infrastructure here? what does that mean, it floats!!!!!!)
Instead, she suggests that the electricity and water supplies that the ship would need in Canning Dock could be installed at a reasonable cost.
This contradicts a statement released by Albert Dock Company, its public spaces management company Gower Street Estates and British Waterways, blaming “lack of infrastructure” for ejecting Planet.The statement says:
Here we go.....
“All (Albert Dock) partners would like to see the lightship remain in the South Docks area but, unfortunately, a suitable location cannot be found which meets health and safety requirements, the needs of the owner and the partners.
“Unfortunately Canning Dock cannot be used permanently because it is a tidal dock used during the operation of ships sailing through Canning river lock.”
This also appears to be at odds with long-term plans for the permanent berth in Canning Dock of HMS Whimbrel, the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Ship, which is far bigger than Planet.
The Albert Dock statement adds: “Although all partners recognised the historic significance of the Mersey Bar lightship, some concerns were raised from occupiers of the Albert Dock estate about the vessel being moored there.
“On 18 January 2007, during extreme weather, the mooring lines securing the vessel to the dock wall broke away and the vessel was moved to Canning Half Tide Dock for health and safety reasons.”
Mr McClarnan, a Manchester-based music and property entrepreneur, denied he was consulted about the statement and disputed much of its content.
He says: “Planet could be moored securely in Albert Dock with ropes around the warehouse columns as shown in old photos, and a practice used by Merseyside Maritime Museum’s vessels.
“I wasn’t asked to move Planet from there for health and safety reasons, but threatened with trespass by Gower Street Estates if I moored the ship to the columns. That’s why the ship broke free in the storm.”
Pam Brown, Mersey Bar Lightvessel Preservation Society president, says: “I hope that some kind of sense will still prevail to keep this iconic vessel here.
“There is plenty of quay space in Canning Dock for Planet’s permanent berth. It’s simply a case of the relevant authorities sitting around a table if they are committed to make it happen.”
Planet, the former Mersey Bar lightship and Britain’s last manned lightship, was likely to be sold abroad when Mr McClarnan bought it for £100,000 and spent a further £100,000 on restoration.