A fishing boat is making slow progress back to Shetland after taking in water 40 miles north west of the isles. The Port of Ayr, registered in Fleetwood but crewed by 16 Spanish fishermen, is being towed to Sullom Voe by the council tug Shalder, over 24 hours after first reporting mechanical problems.
The vessel suffered a fault with its gearbox at around 7am on Thursday morning. She began taking in water through a hole in her hull. Fisheries protection vessel Hirta arrived on the scene after the fishing boat began drifting towards the Transocean Rather drilling rig.
The Hirta‘s crew helped plug the hole, and the Port of Ayr‘s pumps managed to cope with the water which had leaked into the vessel. The fisheries boat remained on the scene until the afternoon, when the coastguard tug Anglian Sovereign arrived from Scalloway.
Later on the vessel’s owners contracted Shetland Islands Council to send the Shalder from Sullom Voe to tow the fishing boat back to the islands. However the south easterly wind was blowing from force six to force eight at the time.
At 11.30am on Friday the vessel was still under tow, travelling at three and a half knots 35 miles north east of Sullom Voe. The vessel was not expected to arrive in Shetland until 9pm on Friday.