NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Seven fishermen towed to safety after 15 hours

Russa Taign being towed
Image caption The Russa Taign was towed back to Kirkwall at about 10:00 by the emergency tug crew

Seven fishermen have been towed to safety after a 15-hour operation to rescue an Orkney fishing vessel.

The crew of Scotland's only emergency Coastguard tug helped the stricken 89ft (27m) Kirkwall-registered Russa Taign, which broke down west of Westray.

The crew raised the alarm at 18:20 on Thursday but a rescue attempt by a nearby boat failed after a tow snapped.

The emergency tug crew were able to fasten a tow and led the Russa Taign back to Kirkwall at 10:00 on Friday.

The crew of the Stromness Lifeboat also responded to the Russa Taign's distress call after it reported losing engine power 12 miles west of Noup Head in winds approaching gale-force.

'Uncomfortable' rescue

However, when the lifeboat crew arrived, they found conditions too rough for them to tow the much larger fishing boat.

They alerted the Coastguard Tug, which arrived on scene at 23:00 at about the same time as the Orkney-registered Keila fishing vessel.

Image copyright David Bowdler
Image caption The Russa Taign first sent a distress call at 18:20 on Thursday

Attempts by the Keila to attach a wire tow also proved unsuccessful.

A Coastguard spokesman said the weather had made the rescue "uncomfortable".

He added: "The vessel broke down and requested assistance because they were drifting and the weather was bad.

"Another fishing vessel, the Keila, attempted to tow it but they were unsuccessful because the towing cable kept breaking.

"The Stromness lifeboat, which had been standing by, was also unsuccessful and the Coastguard ETV then took over the tow and they arrived in Kirkwall this morning."

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