The 18-year-old radio operator went onto shore but never made it back on-board and when the ship returned to Portsmouth days later

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Hampshire and iow news

Investigations into the disappearance of a young sailor more than 30 years ago will see further searches carried out in Gibraltar.

It comes after a team from Hampshire Constabulary returned from Gibraltar in December in a bid to find out what happened to Simon Parkes.

As a result of the work carried out last year in Trafalgar Cemetery, new lines of enquiry have identified new areas of interest.

These remain within the cemetery and will see specialist teams from Royal Gibraltar Police spend another fortnight at the site to ensure all possibilities have been fully investigated.

This investigation continues to be a collaborative operation with Royal Gibraltar Police, who will be carrying out the searches, supported by Hampshire Constabulary and the Royal Navy.

Royal Navy Rating Parkes, from Bristol, was last seen in December 1986, when the ship he was serving on, HMS Illustrious, was docked in Gibraltar.

The 18-year-old radio operator went onto shore but never made it back on-board and when the ship returned to Portsmouth days later, no one knew what had happened to him despite a huge manhunt to find him.

Since then investigations into his disappearance have so far failed to find answers for his devastated parents.

However, following new information received by Hampshire Constabulary earlier last year, the investigation made new progress and led officers back to Gibraltar.

Detective Inspector Adam Edwards said: “These searches are a continuation of our investigation into the disappearance of Simon Parkes.

“We owe it to him and his family to ensure we have followed every legitimate line of enquiry in a bid to give them the answers they have been waiting 30 years for.

“The searches in December proved successful with regards to generating new lines of enquiry and these new searches are as a result of those.

“While we did find bone material during our time out there in December, forensic testing on this takes time and we are still awaiting those results.”

He added: “We have worked closely with our colleagues at Royal Gibraltar Police to plan this latest operation and we will be in constant contact with them throughout this next phase.

“We have kept Mr and Mrs Parkes informed of our progress and I’d like to thank them again for their support. We know this remains a difficult time for them and we hope our work will finally bring them the answers they so desperately want.”

Detective Inspector John Olivera of the Royal Gibraltar Police said: “We continue to work closely with Hampshire Constabulary on the investigation in order to follow all new lines of enquiry in a bid to provide Simon’s family with some closure. Over the next two weeks, the public in Gibraltar can expect to see a large Police presence in and around the area of the Trafalgar cemetery, whilst the search operation is ongoing.”