Second emergency tug should be reinstated, MSP demands

Less than a month after the Orkney-based emergency tug was saved, calls are being made for a second vessel to be reinstated in Scottish waters.

If implemented the move would bring Scotland’s quota of emergency towing vessels back to the level it was after Lord Donaldson’s report into the Braer disaster. The call comes after a 17,000 tonne drilling rig ran aground off the Western Isles.

The Transocean Winner, which had 280 metric tonnes of diesel on board, was under tow west of Lewis when it was hit by severe storms.

It is understood the rig became detached from the tug boat overnight, before running aground at the beach of Dalmore in the Carloway area on Monday morning.

Previously two emergency tugs covered north and west waters, one based in Stornoway and one in Shetland.

A government cost cutting exercise in 2012 saw one of the tugs removed and the remaining one stationed in Orkney.

It is that vessel which, following extensive negotiations and a campaign by this newspaper, was finally saved from the chop last month.

But Western Isles communities still feel exposed to the risk of marine pollution and other incidents.

The latest incident has led to Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, calling again for the reinstatement of a second Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) in the north.

“Fortunately, on this occasion, there were no personnel on board the rig and there was no risk to life. There was a huge amount diesel on board however which could have resulted in an environmental disaster. I have long entrenched concerns about the removal of the ETV from Stornoway.

“The one remaining emergency tug that covers the north and west coast is based in Orkney and takes an estimated eight hours to reach the north Minch and a staggering 12 hours to reach Barra Head from its Orkney base.”


Add Your Comment
  • Douglas Greig Young

    • August 8th, 2016 18:35

    A Labour MSP calling for the reserved-to-Westminster matter of emergency tugs to reinstate the one cut by Westminster after she told Scotland to vote for Westminster rule?

  • John Tulloch

    • August 9th, 2016 8:59

    Sorry, Douglas, I don’t quite understand your point. Are you saying that because Ms Grant is a unionist she should not call on Westminster to reinstate the second emergency tug?

  • Mike Cooper

    • August 9th, 2016 11:36

    I still don’t get it…Even had there been ten tugs based in the Western Isles they would have been unable in the conditions to stop the rig going ashore.
    The Coastguard tug is a predatory vessel and will only give assistance once salvage/insurance rights have been established. Legal piracy springs to mind.


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