View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Transocean Winner

Although I dub the hapless oilrig "Transocean Loser", it's not her fault that she ended up as an unwanted and unusual piece of flotsam, washed up at Dalmore. Two public meetings have come and gone, the late August springtide will be ebbing in the next few days, and it will be at least another fortnight before the Transocean Winner can be towed away from the West Side of Lewis.

I ask the question why the tow got underway, in spite of a gale in its path being forecast five days before it occurred.

I concur with Capt Maurice Macleod who asked Transocean why their rig wasn't ballasted down in the face of a rising gale.

I ask the Maritime and Coastguard Agency MCA whether they were monitoring this tow, and were advising the skipper of the tug Alp Forward to divert, either down the Minch or further out into the Atlantic.

I am displeased with the spineless attitude of our local authority who will not express an opinion on the necessity of an emergency towing vessel until the investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch is complete. This could take at least a year. I call it spineless, because the SNP group on said council have set up a petition to return an ETV to Stornoway, which flies in the face of the procrastination as endorsed by the full council.

I fully support the council, coastguard and police in enforcing the road closure of the Dalmore village road, between the A858 Carloway to Shawbost road, and the cemetery; a temporary opening on Monday 9th resulted in traffic chaos which took a long time to clear. I support the same agencies in warning people to stay away from the coastline between Gearrannan and Dalbeg (including Dalmore); this coastline is fronted by tall cliffs topped by grassy slopes which are slippery, certainly in the wet conditions that prevailed in the days following the grounding of the Transocean Winner.

I am not pleased with the attitude from Transocean and certain local agencies who ignored an invitation from the local community association to give information last Monday (15th), yet organised their own meeting three days later in the same village hall, something that smacks of a slap across the face. Transocean have apologised, which is the right and proper thing to do.

I anxiously await further developments, but hope that compensation claims from those adversely affected by this grounding (like the surfing company and local fishermen) will be speedily and favourably assessed.