Grounded rig owners Transocean and SMIT Salvage are preparing to refloat the 17,000-tonne Transocean Winner that washed ashore at Dalmore Bay, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Transocean plans to refloat the rig over the high water tonight, Monday 22 August. The rig will then be towed to Broad Bay on the east coast of Lewis, where it will remain until it is fit to be towed or transported to a suitable repair facility.

Salvage team Smit has agreed the towage plan with Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention.

The 300m exclusion zone remains in place. There will be a 1,000m exclusion zone around the Transocean Winner for the duration of the passage from Dalmore Bay to Broad Bay.

Yesterday Transocean removed 200 tonnes of non-essential diesel oil and any other potential pollutants from the drilling rig, using the supply vessel Olympic Orion.

A verification aircraft will be sent to monitor for any potential pollution. A survey yesterday picked up a sheen which turned out to be 200ml and was quickly broken up using boats by Briggs Environmental.

Hugh Shaw said: ‘We have commenced the final phase of this part of the operation. The two tugs who will be towing are already connected and standing by off Dalmore Beach. The refloat is scheduled to take place later tonight.

‘We’re aware of how much interest there has been in this rig and completely understand that. And we know that people will want to watch it. All we ask is that everyone follows the guidance that is being put out by the Western Isles Emergency Planning Co-ordinating Group so that they can watch it safely.’

Transocean drilling rig. Credit: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Transocean drilling rig. Credit: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Background

The 17,000-tonne semi-submersible, Transocean Winner rig was being towed from Norway to Malta when it became detached from the tug boat Alp Forward in severe storms and washed up on the island’s west coast near Carloway on 8 August.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) counter pollution branch said no pollution has been detected in the area of the rig, despite four diesel fuel tanks being breached and an estimated 53 tonnes of fuel lost.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is investigating the grounding.

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