A CREW member of the world's oldest operating wooden sailing ship, the

Maria Assumpta, died and two other were missing after she ran aground

and sank off the Camel estuary, north Cornwall, yesterday.

The body of a 50-year-old man was picked up from the sea after a

massive operation involving lifeboats, helicopters and local fishing


Eleven other crew members were recovered. A Falmouth coastguard

spokesman said hopes of finding the other two of the 137-year-old square

rigger's 14 crew were ''receding with each hour''. They could have

survived, but he suspected that they had gone down with the ship.

The 125-foot vessel broke up and sank in seas which pounded the rocks

off Pentire Point. Six survivors were brought to the top of the cliffs

by a winch operated by coastguard teams and five others were taken

aboard a fishing vessel, the Helen Clare.

A rescue helicopter from the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose and

lifeboats from Padstow, Port Isaac and Rock were on the scene, said

Falmouth coastguards.

The 127-ton Spanish-built brig originally operated on the

transAtlantic trade routes, and was maintained by a historical society

in Kent.