A salvage mission has been launched to save a historic ship which once graced Albert Dock.

Experts are investigating how they can save a tall ship which ran aground off Anglesey.

The 100ft-long vessel, Zebu, was left semi-keeled at a 45-degree angle after drifting onto the breakwater at Holyhead port.

A towing attempt was unsuccessful and hopes that she could be refloated on Sunday receded after the Zebu took on more water at high tide.

The grounding marked an unhappy few days for the two-masted clipper sailing boat, which was built in Sweden in 1938.

On Thursday, the vessel required a tow when it got into navigational difficulties off Anglesey, North Wales Live reported.

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The Zebu had been heading to Bristol for conservation work from her base at the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool.

She lost her anchor on Saturday while moored at Holyhead Marina, drifting some 600 metres before reaching the breakwater.

Two crew members were on board at the time.

A rescue mission was launched by HM Coastguards' Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre - but this was ultimately unsuccessful.

The historic sail ship Zebu has tilted at a 45 degree angle against the breakwater at Holyhead and has taken on water after breaking away from it's anchor point in the harbour. Photo by Ian Cooper
The historic sail ship Zebu has tilted at a 45 degree angle against the breakwater at Holyhead and has taken on water after breaking away from it's anchor point in the harbour. Photo by Ian Cooper

A spokesperson said: "The Coastguard immediately requested the assistance of a work boat from the marina to attempt to tow the ship off the breakwater.

"The attempted tow was unsuccessful.

"We then asked the Holyhead Coastguard (land based) rescue team and Holyhead RNLI inshore and all-weather lifeboats to assist.

"We also called Holyhead Harbour Authority to assist.

"Unfortunately, the tide was dropping and we were unable to get the Tall Ship off the breakwater."

HM Coastguard said Holyhead Harbour Authority is working with the boat's owners and insurers to consider a possible salvage operation.

The historic sail ship Zebu has tilted at a 45 degree angle against the breakwater at Holyhead and has taken on water after breaking away from it's anchor point in the harbour. Photo by Ian Cooper
The historic sail ship Zebu has tilted at a 45 degree angle against the breakwater at Holyhead and has taken on water after breaking away from it's anchor point in the harbour. Photo by Ian Cooper

In the meantime it has urged members of the public to stay away for fear of mooring ropes snapping and injuring bystanders.

A witness said: "This afternoon people were still walking along the breakwater but most were only taking a casual interest in what was going on.

"Just a few were stopping to take photos on their mobile phones."

It is understood any salvage operation, if it happens, is unlikely to take place today.

One possibility is lifting the boat with a crane, while pumping water to remove weight.

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Another is to raise the Zebu using flotation devices and pulleys attached to slings under the vessel.

One complication is the vessel's electric motor.

The Zebu was the world's first tall ship to be equipped this way - but it adds significant weight to the vessel.

One shipping expert, who asked not to be named, said a recovery mission will have to be mounted quickly if the boat is to be saved.

"When the tide came back in, the boat was swamped and she was swallowed by the sea," he said.

"If she's not recovered in the next seven days, she'll break up.

"I hope it succeeds as the Zebu is a great example of her type and she deserves to be saved."