The Transocean Winner drilling rig that ran aground in bad weather on the Isle of Lewis nearly two weeks ago has been refloated, stabilised and is being towed some 40 miles to safer waters.

The rig was refloated from Dalmore Bay at 10pm on Monday night and at midday today, Wednesday, the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said Transocean Winner was on the final approach to Broad Bay.

It’s likely the drilling rig will be secured on her anchors by late afternoon. From there Transocean intend to carry out further work to assess its condition before deciding on next moves.

A MCA verification aircraft has carried out a flight and no pollution has been detected in Broad Bay or along the track to Dalmore Bay.

The temporary exclusion zone remains in place at Dalmore Bay until the seabed has been thoroughly checked for any debris or environmental impact.

There is also a 1,000m temporary exclusion zone in place at Broad Bay.

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for maritime salvation and intervention said: ‘The tow has taken longer than anticipated. We have been clear from the outset that we would not compromise the operation in any way so I am delighted that the 54 mile transit has been successfully completed without incident.’

He added: ‘I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the Western Isles Council and community for their patience and their gracious hospitality during this challenging and disruptive period.  This salvage operation has required the united cooperation from so many different organisations who have spared no effort to ensure that this rig reaches safer waters.

‘I would like to specifically mention Salvage Master, Sylvia Tervoort and the SMIT Salvage team, Transocean, Briggs Environmental, Western Isles Council and local community, Scottish Environment Group and other supporting government departments, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the emergency services – not to mention all the other supporting organisations, stakeholders and businesses who’ve assisted in this operation.’