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Hebrides News


MSP Alasdair Allan has reiterated calls for the reinstatement of a dedicated emergency towing vessel (ETV) for the west coast of Scotland, following the near-grounding of a cargo vessel off the Western Isles.

Yesterday evening the cargo vessel Fame lost power off the west coast of Lewis and it was believed she was very likely to ground on either Harris or North Uist.


When the coastguard tug based in Orkney was quickly dispatched it was estimated to take 14 hours before she would arrive at the scene.


Alasdair Allan commented: “After the Transocean Winner oil rig washed up on the beach of Dalmore last year we were told there was still not a case for an additional ETV based on the west coast, and that the Orkney-based ETV would be undertaking regular patrols to the Western Isles instead. Last night’s incident shows this is not good enough to protect our coast.


“We should all be incredibly grateful for the dedication and skill of the Leverburgh lifeboat crew, who arrived promptly on the scene. However, we are very lucky that last night’s incident did not end with the grounding of a vessel on our shores and this needs to be taken seriously.


“If we look to Europe for a comparison, Germany with a coastline of 2,389km Germany has eight emergency towing vessels while the UK Government has left Scotland with just one, despite our coastline of 18,672km.


“I once again call upon the UK Government to live up to its maritime safety obligations and reinstate a dedicated ETV for the west coast of Scotland.”

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar leader, Roddie Mackay, also called for a tug to be based on the west coast.


Cllr Mackay said: “Last night we had an incident off the west coast which could have seriously impacted marine wildlife and the coastal environment.


“These incidents are all too frequent and we remain very concerned, as do colleagues in neighbouring councils, about the current situation which increases the risks for mariners and the environment.


“We will once again be making the case to the UK Government for a second ETV based on the west coast to address this serious issue.


“We are also raising the matter of deployment of the ETV with the MCA as the lifeboats from Leverburgh and Stornoway have had to assist the freight ship until the ETV from Orkney arrives more than 12 hours later. It is unacceptable.”


Calls to reinstate coastguard tug after ship near-grounding  

15 December 2017