One of Mike Newton-Smith's many vessels.

By Rob Vinall and Andy Gilbert

Back in the 1960s, Mike Newton-Smith ran a very successful marine salvage business known as METREC, short for Metal Reclamation, I think. He had a few tugs, mostly converted wartime TIDs, and various other ships like the Metrec Vulture and a former minesweeper named Investic. He bought some ships to convert and rebuild, like our harbour tug Tidworth, and others to scrap up at Denton Island, including submarines!

Photo:Trawler used for salvage diving

Trawler used for salvage diving

Rob Vinall

One of his working vessels was the former East German trawler shown in the first photo - Rob can't recall its name, but I've looked carefully at the full sized scan and it would seem to be someone's name. As far as I can tell, it's **ELA **MAN. Anyone recognise it and able to put a name to it?

Rob's brother Rod was a master diver and was skipper of the trawler. Apparently to all outward appearances, it was still an East German vessel and was subject to frequent stop and searches in the Channel!

Photo:The crew in the wheelhouse

The crew in the wheelhouse

Rob Vinall

The second photo shows the crew in the wheelhouse of the trawler. Rod Vinall is at the wheel and the man with the beard and wooly hat is Colin Feaver. Rob thinks one of the other men is a member of another of Newhaven's well known nautical clans, the Wood family. Anyone recognise him? The identity of the fourth man is also not known.


This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 29/04/2019.
Comments about this page

I believe the name of the Ship to be the Sheila Holman. Found on the HMS Natal site.

I think you're quite right. Andy-editor


By Ann Mackenzie
On 27/09/2021

I think the man next to Rod is Roger Wood, son of the well known Ken Wood, a man always around the harbour. If Ken couldn't do it, nobody could!!!. I believe Rodney and I were at school together.

Did you know Colin that Roger Wood was among a small group people able to read morse code at the incredible speed of 40 words a minute.

John - Editor

By Colin Brandon
On 28/09/2021

I did not know that John, WOW, but I did know that he was very talented. Is he still afloat ?.

He may be Colin, the family emigrated to New Zealand and fished the waters in the southern hemisphere, that was the last I heard of the Wood family.

By Colin Brandon
On 29/09/2021

Last I heard was that Roger was living in Great Yarmouth. Guy wood is in the States.

Thanks Bill for the update, hope you are well.

John - Editor

By William Still
On 01/10/2021

Never thought l would see the Sheila Holman again, my Dad worked in the engine room early 70's, l still have  his brass key fob engine room port! He always had a a good few tales to tell. He made a model boat in a glass case which his brother still has. My Dad was Harold Hanaghan think known as Harry. Thank you so much for the info.

Thank you for the extra information Teresa. Could you send us a photo of the key fob please, so we can add it to this page. will get it to us! Thanks, Andy- editor

By Teresa Mackintosh
On 04/04/2022

The most handsome man with the beard, next to the skipper was my Dad Jim Yalland and I believe next to him ‘Uncle Hammy’ Hamish Mackenzie I’m not sure where they were diving at this time but they worked a lot together diving in places including Scapa Flow and Cromarty Firth. After years of trying to get there I’ve just visited the Naval and Maritime in Inverness where there’s a fabulous section about the sinking of HMS Natal and Hamish had dedicated a plaque along with many artefacts from the ship!! A very proud moment for me!!
My dad left this company to settle  and start a family in south Devon where he worked as a ‘Crabber’ and sadly was lost at sea near the Channel Islands in 1979. 
This picture is just as I remember him!!!

By Nicola Putt
On 08/07/2022

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