Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lysblink Seaways - the Missing Hour

There seem to be more and more questions surrounding the stranding of this ship.  One which hasn't been aired too much relates to events immediately after the Lysblink Seaways hit the rocks by Mingary Pier.

This clip from the Ship AIS website shows the Lysblink's track during the early hours of 18th February.  Her last position in the 'History', recorded at 1.10am, shows her position at 12.50am, and states that she was travelling at 14.5 knots.

The Ship AIS 'History' records ships' positions at ten minute intervals.  The 1.20am map should have shown her further north, almost off Tobermory, but the ship has 'disappeared'. By 1.50am she was on the rocks.

Yet the Tobermory lifeboat wasn't launched until shortly after 3.00am - this clip is from the Tobermory lifeboat's Facebook page.  So what was happening during that missing hour?

Had a "mayday" been transmitted immediately, one would have expected HM Coastguard to call out the Tobermory lifeboat within minutes, in which case she would have been launched soon after 2.00am.  What seems more likely is that the captain and crew did not declare an emergency.  Did they spent that hour contacting their owners?  Did they put the engines full astern and try to pull her off?  I think the communities of West Ardnamurchan and beyond would like to know.

Many thanks to West Coast Yachtsman, who brings the story up-to-date. The Lysblink Seaways, he reports, left Scallastle Bay at 1.00pm yesterday bound for Greenock for repairs; she's due there at about 2.00am tomorrow morning.  She is being towed by the tug Luca with a second tug, Afon Menai, bringing up the rear, and is accompanied by the Forth Jouster.

This map, courtesy West Coast Yachtsman, shows the Luca's passage through the Corryvreckan, the narrow strait between Jura and Scarba which is notorious for its strong currents and whirlpools, around nine last night.  Look carefully at the orientation of the Luca, which shows her pointing increasingly southwest until she, and her tow, are drawn into the strait, at which point, as West Coast Yachtsman so neatly puts it, she "had no choice but to go with the flow".


  1. Latest ETA for Lysblink Seaways 7pm to-day 5th information on Marine Traffic website.

  2. Regarding the AIS blackout, the shipais dot com version of this kind of interface appears to have an area of no reception at the western end of the Sound of Mull. Marinetraffic dot com, for example, covers it fine, and it's from that one that most folk will have picked up the track over The New Rocks, proving that Lysblink Seaways was not under command from some point after this course was set, north of Salen, Isle of Mull, until the collision with Kilchoan. The most feasible reason is that all crew members who would normally be responsible at the bridge at some point in a 24 hr period were asleep.

    Regarding the routing to the Clyde via Corryvreckan, whilst unusual for commercial vessels, it seems to have been a model passage made at slackish water and/or pushing against the first of the west going stream, which would make towing comfortable in the relatively calm conditions they had, as can be seen from the clean track. And it was the only relatively safe we they were going to be able to achieve the route suggested by Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention, Hugh Shaw (originally from Clydebank), in yesterday's MCA press release:

    “The tow will, where possible, take advantage of sheltered waters and will move through the Sound of Mull, Firth of Lorn, Sound of Jura and the North Channel before entering the Firth of Clyde.”

    Iain, PBP

  3. Many thanks for the clarification, Iain. Jon

  4. Lysblink Seaways entered Inchgreen Drydock, Greenock, this morning. No doubt photos will soon begin appearing from the Greenock ship paparazzi. Dougie Coull got one of her looking a bit happier here:

    Iain, PBP

  5. Many thanks, Iain. What a super website that is. Very envious of the number and variety of ships he has passing! Jon.