Shetland Coastguard and other search and rescue teams have suspended their efforts in the hunt for survivors from the cement carrier Cemfjord which capsized and sank in the Pentland Firth – with no sign of the eight missing crewmen.
Work will now begin on an investigation to establish what happened to the vessel.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency statement was issued on Sunday afternoon, as daylight faded, saying: “The lifeboats completed their search areas earlier this afternoon and returned to shore. The helicopter, coastguard rescue teams, fixed wing aircraft and HMS Somerset continued to search but sadly, by last light this evening nothing was found.
“The families of the missing crew have been notified. The coastguard will continue to broadcast messages to all shipping requesting that they are informed about any information or sightings that could be related to the vessel.
“The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed and is about to begin work on the investigation.”
Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead paid tribute to those involved in the rescue effort. “Our thoughts are with the families of the missing crew at this difficult time.
“I would like to pay tribute to the work of the coastguard rescue teams from Kirkwall, St Margaret’s Hope, Duncansby, Scrabster and Wick involved in the search and rescue operation.
“Marine Scotland and the Scottish government stand ready to assist if required.”