Thursday, 19 February 2015

Lysblink Seaways - Day 2, and she's Away!

When the Lysblink Seaways drifted gently off the rocks at Mingary Pier during high water this evening, only one person had thought it might happen: Hughie MacLachlan of Kilchoan Coastguard had noticed that the ship had slipped down the rocks earlier in the day, and commented on it.  And it was his team, along with a local policeman, who were the only ones at the pier when the ship began a short journey towards what would have been another set of rocks at Mingary Castle.

Fortunately, salvage ship Forth Jouster was close at hand, and five anchor are now set, holding the ship steady.  Picture shows the tug, the Kingdom of Fife, approaching the Lysblink Seaways soon after.  The ship is listing, and down by the stern, but there's no indication of any further problems.  Salvage experts are now on board assessing the situation.

This followed a long day of consultations and walking around looking serious from all the many salvage people who have been in attendance.  At a meeting held at 4pm this afternoon in the Kilchoan Community Centre, all the main parties to this salvage operation and the investigation into the causes of the stranding met to hear the salvage team from Svitzer describe the present position.  Attending were, among others, the Lysblink seaways' owners and their insurers, the MAIB, the Coastguard, and the police.

The ship has leaked fuel oil - many thanks to the Raptor, a local contributor to the Diary and keen ornithologist, for pointing out that light oil can be seen coming from the ship in the photograph from Mingary on today's morning post - but the amounts were, mercifully, small, and there was no suggestion that they would increase.

Such oil as was leaking out was being contained behind a boom provided by Highland Council - the white thing visible in this picture around the bottom of the hull and astern.  The problem faced by Svitzer was that, because of the angle of the ship, all the fuel had run to the stern and could not be pumped out - there was a suggestion that there might be a faulty valve.  The salvors therefore sent for special equipment from Holland which would have enabled them to punch into the fuel tank and draw the oil out, but this was not due to arrive for at least 24 hours.

Divers had been down, not to inspect the ship's hull but the damage which is largely underneath and, therefore, not visible, but to look for any rocks which might further have damaged the ship when she is pulled off.

The crew were not leaving the ship.  They were comfortable, have plenty of food and a good cook on board, but obviously the MAIB and Coastguard will need to interview them.

It was thought that it would be at least 48 hours before an attempt to tow the ship off would take place.  Depending on which forecast you look at, the weather wasn't on Svitzer's side.  This is Sunday's forecast from the most pessimistic, XCWeather, and the rest of the week is as bad if not worse.

The ship has taken events into her own hands.  All we on shore can hope is that she can be moved quickly to a safe, sheltered position, stabilised, surrounded by booms in case of leakage of fuel and, in due course, towed away.  Then there will be a lot of questions which we would like answered.


  1. It's rapidly becoming "You couldn't make it up" stuff. The boat going aground in the first place; nobody from the shipping company, the insurers or the salvage people being there when it re-floated; &, I believe, the prices in the Kilchoan House Hotel being put up by 30% for as long as the situation lasts.

  2. Yes @ 30% increase there will certainly be a lot of locals avoiding fish n chips tonight