Local News for Monday 26th September 2016

Ferry grounded in Lochmaddy
Ferry travel is in disarray after the MV Hebrides ran aground in Lochmaddy harbour yesterday, smashing into the new marina and grounding her hull on the shore. CalMac said that 76 passengers, with 13 cars, a motorhome and a lorry were on board as MV Hebrides, travelling from Tarbert, approached Lochmaddy port at 11.05am yesterday. The vessel was unable to to reduce speed and struck both pontoons in Lochmaddy harbour, as well as the seabed. No one was injured, the vessel's hull remains intact and all passengers and vehicles were safely disembarked. The Hebrides is now alongside and divers will make underwater investigations into damage today, ahead of a full enquiry into what happened.

Read more: Local News for Monday 26th September 2016

Local News for Friday 23rd September 2016

Forecast scuppers rig move plans
A changing weather forecast has put paid to plans for moving the damaged oil rig Transocean Winner during this weekend. Gales forecast for today and into tomorrow have closed a weather window which would have allowed the rig to be floated onto the waiting heavy load carrier OHT Hawk. With tonight’s forecast predicting southerly gale force 8 winds, the priority now is to keep the rig stable in the storms, while tugs and other ships continue to stand by for a possible move. The windy weather also forced cancellation of a planned boom deployment exercise by the Briggs Environmental vessel Forth Drummer, planned for yesterday. During the training exercise 200 metres of pollution containment boom would have been deployed, to confirm response timings ahead of transferring the Transocean Winner onto the OHT Hawk. A new time for the exercise and for the rig move is to be set based on weather forecasts. Once the timing for the float-on operation has been agreed, a new exclusion zone of 1000 metres will be set in Broad Bay around the Hawk for the duration of the operation.

Read more: Local News for Friday 23rd September 2016

Local News for Thursday 22nd September 2016

Long shout for Stornoway RNLI
The volunteer crew of Stornoway RNLI were out on shout for over six hours this week as the 'Tom Sanderson' lifeboat launched to the aid of a broken down fishing boat. Stornoway's Severn-class RNLI lifeboat launched at 3.30pm on Tuesday to the aid of an 18metre fishing boat which had suffered engine failure around ten nautical miles north of the Butt of Lewis. The weather at the scene was challenging, with winds of up to 30knots and a large turbulent swell. The crew quickly established a tow line between the two vessels and set course for Stornoway harbour. They reached their home port with the stricken vessel around 11pm, getting the volunteer crew back to their homes nearly seven hours after launching.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 22nd September 2016

Local News for Wednesday 21st September 2016

Oil rig – the fleet gathers
A fleet of vessels have gathered in Broad Bay, as the semi-submersible heavy load carrier Hawk prepares to take the damaged oil rig Transocean Winner on board as cargo. Transocean has signed a contract with the Norwegian company Offshore Heavy Transport (OHT), operators of HAWK, which arrived yesterday evening in Broad Bay and which is to take the rig as dry cargo to a breaking yard in Aliaga, Turkey. There are now eight tugs and diving ships, plus the Hawk herself, all preparing for the complex manoeuvre of floating the rig from her current anchorage onto the deck of the carrier. Secretary of State’s representative Hugh Shaw said that the operation required good sea and wind conditions, including a 12 hour window of flat calm while the rig transfers. Eight anchors have secured the rig in Broad Bay in the three weeks since she was moved there from Dalmore, where she came aground in a storm in August. In Dalmore Bay itself there are still seven pieces of debris awaiting recovery, after poor weather hampered diving this week. Temporary Exclusion Zones remain in place in Dalmore Bay and Broad Bay, and Stornoway air traffic control has also issued a notice to alert pilots of the potential hazard in the Broad Bay area. 

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 21st September 2016

Local News for Tuesday 20th September 2016

“Let fishing boats go to sea” – MP
Three fishing boats are currently tied up in Barra due to lack of crew, and Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil wants to keep them at sea rather than tied up at the harbour. Mr MacNeil has called for action from the UK Government as many skippers in Scotland are facing major difficulties in finding crew. In the past they have looked outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to fill the gaps in labour, but this has been made increasingly difficult by UK visa and immigration requirements. Mr MacNeil said: “A local firm had hoped to welcome two new crew members last week but hit another stumbling block when the workers were declined entry to the UK and sent home. Many skippers along the west coast, particularly in the prawn and white fish sectors, have had to tie up boats as they cannot crew them. This has knock on effects for the local economy, especially in onshore supporting industries. A solution to this issue was identified – the reintroduction of a scheme for sourcing temporary labour from out with the EEC, as is being introduced in the Republic of Ireland. After Brexit there was a lot of talk of taking control but fishermen are finding that they have no control and this is a problem with the UK Government.” Mr MacNeil has written to Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill MP, on this matter and awaits an early response.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 20th September 2016