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Hebrides News



A “near miss” case of a disabled ship drifting helplessly towards the Western Isles coast has sparked fresh calls for a coastguard tug to be based in the Hebrides.


Local fishermen report the large singled-engined vessel - believed to be carrying cargo for Italy - was being pushed by wind and tide towards the north west coast of Lewis.


Western Isles councillors raised “serious widespread concerns” when they debated the incident at a meeting, warning the absence of an emergency towing vessel (ETV) locally could have resulted in serious pollution and an environmental disaster.

Drifting cargo ship sparks fresh calls for coastguard tug

10 March 2017

The authority is now renewing its campaign to have a tug stationed in Stornoway.


The brand new 229 metre long bulk carrier - which carries up to 85,000 tonnes of cargo when fully laden - was following a similar track and distance off Lewis to the Transocean Winner oil rig which crashed onto rocks near important fishing grounds in August.


With her rate of drift in the early hours of Friday, it may have only taken around 13 hours on the incoming tide for the broken-down vessel to have hit the shore.


The Stornoway tug was removed in 2011 under Westminster cost cutting.


The sole designated emergency vessel, MV Herakles - formerly named the MV Anglian Prince - is stationed in Orkney and extremely rarely used for incidents off the Western Isles.


Even if the ETV is summoned the delay in arriving from Orkney could be too late, highlights the council.


Council leader Angus Campbell said: “Last week a large bulk carrier was without power for a period of time.


“Fortunately, the ship’s engineers managed to get the vessel going themselves.”


He feared for the consequences if the ship could not have been repaired because of the “delay in time” for the Orkney tug to arrive.


The MV Herakles should be escorting such large vessels through sensitive waters, he stressed.