Highlands & Islands

Transocean Winner rig on way to Malta from Lewis

The rig is out of water on the deck of the transport ship, Hawk Image copyright Angus Macdonald/BBC Alba
Image caption The rig was loaded on to the deck of the transport ship Hawk last week

A 17,000-tonne oil rig which ran aground on the Western Isles more than two months ago is en route to Malta on a heavy lift ship.

The Transocean Winner rig ran aground at Dalmore on Lewis in a storm in early August while being towed to Malta.

It was refloated after three weeks and anchored at Broad Bay on Lewis before being put on board the Hawk last week.

Paperwork problems caused further delays but it was given permission to set sail earlier and left at 20:05.

The Turkish authorities had to provide the documentation that will allow the drilling rig to eventually be taken to a yard in Turkey where it will be scrapped.

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative Maritime and Salvage Intervention, said: "At 5pm today I advised the Master of the Hawk that he had my permission to weigh anchor and proceed on the voyage in accordance with the agreed passage plan.

Image copyright MCA
Image caption A Maritime and Coastguard Agency image showing the rig being floated on to the deck of the Hawk

"The UK Coastguard will continue to monitor its passage until it leaves the UK search and rescue region. Weather permitting, the voyage to Malta will take approximately two weeks."

The rig's grounding on 8 August sparked pollution fears due to the 280 tonnes of diesel on board.

Investigations found two of its four fuel tanks were damaged in the incident which resulted in the loss of 53,000 litres of fuel, most of which is thought to have evaporated with no damage to the environment.

Transocean, the owner of the rig, has donated £120,000 to Dalmore and Carloway, the communities closest to where the structure washed up in early August.

Last week, Transocean Winner was floated on to the deck of the Hawk, a semi-submersible ship used for transporting large maritime structures over long distances.

This part of the salvage operation had required calm weather and was done within a shortening timescale.

The Hawk was only days away from leaving for another task and the rig's owner, Transocean, were faced with either bringing in another heavy lift vessel or leaving Transocean Winner temporarily anchored over winter.

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