View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


So we're all getting aerigated over a Russian warship passing through the English Channel on its way to the world's current hotspot, the Middle East. Its request for refuelling in Ceuta was cancelled, in order not to upset people too much, because the planes on the deck of the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov are going to do some bombing in Aleppo. Dreadful.

Could somebody please explain this sarcastical cynic what the difference is with an American naval battle group going into the Persian Gulf in 2002 / 2003 to do some bombing in Iraq, prior to an invasion into that country? I mean, the British parliament voted down an invite to do some bombing in Syria 3 years ago, and now we're crying wolf because the legitimate government of Syria is being bolstered by its powerful ally? After all, Saddam Hussein was the (sort of) legitimate leader of Iraq, until the British and American governments decided to take a dislike to him.

In 2011, there was an uprising in Syria against that country's dictator, Bashir al-Assad, which led to a brutal civil war which will keep going for a bit. The city of Aleppo has become the epitomy of all that is wrong about foreign interference in an internal squabble - whether it be by the Americans against Assad, or by the Russians for Assad. Why is this godforsaken dustbowl so important? Because Syria is Russia's only foothold in the Middle East - and will never, ever, give it up. The Americans are jumpy about that, on account of good old oscar india lima - OIL - from surrounding nations.

Da'esh? Gradually being bombed into submission, but used as an excuse for more bombing.

Wish everybody would just butt out.

New Nicolson Institute

During the recent Royal National Mod, the precinct of the Nicolson Institute was open to the public. I took the opportunity to walk through and take some photographs - the school was newly built in 2012.


Transocean Winner - no more

The oilrig Transocean Winner has arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on the deck of the heavy load transporter Hawk. The ship came to anchor there around 5pm GMT yesterday evening after a 17 day journey from the Isle of Lewis. At the moment of typing, preparations are being made to offload the rig from the Hawk and take it for demolition.

The oilrig was being towed from Norway to Turkey on the night of 7th / 8th August when a well-forecast gale caused it to be separated from its tug. The TW was then blown ashore off the beach at Dalmore in Lewis. It became an unwanted addition to the landscape, with risk of pollution (minimal in the end); caused inconvenience to the villagers, visitors to the cemetery (which serves the district) and visitors to the beach.

On the evening of August 22nd, several powerful tugs managed to pull it off the rocks. It took them nearly two days to cover the 54 mile journey to Broad Bay, on the other side of the island. As the tanks in the base of the platform had been breached, a constant flow of compressed air was required to keep it afloat.

A heavy lift vessel, the Hawk, was chartered to load it and transport it to Malta and finally Turkey. This arrived in late September, but it was not until October 10th that the rig was finally loaded, and not until October 14th that clearance was given for it to be moved.

After passing through the Irish Sea, Bay of Biscay and Straits of Gibraltar, the Hawk arrived at Malta for a brief stopover. Last night, the ship reached its destination.

Transocean Winner - good riddance.