Highlands & Islands

Work begins on raising anchors linked to Transocean Winner

oil rig
Image caption Transocean Winner is connected to eight anchors off the Isle of Lewis

Work has begun on raising anchors attached to the Transocean Winner in preparation for moving the drilling rig to a transportation ship.

The structure ran aground at Dalmore, near Carloway on Lewis, in August while being towed from Norway to Turkey

Over the past month it has been removed from Dalmore beach and towed to Broad Bay, Lewis.

The semi-submersible ship Hawk is close by, ready for the rig to be floated on to its deck.

Once in place on the ship, Transocean Winner will be taken to Turkey to be scrapped.

Relatively calm weather is needed for the operation to move the rig to the Hawk.

In anticipation of an improvement in weather conditions, work has started on raising four of the eight anchors holding the rig in the bay.

Later, the remaining four are to be raised in a similar operation, expected to last about 12 hours.

The structure would remain attached to tugs.

'Exclusion zone'

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: "The Hawk will begin to ballast down - which means it will be submerged - ready to receive the rig.

"A temporary exclusion zone of 1,000m will be put in place during the ballasting process on the Hawk until such time the rig is secured.

"The rig will then be towed across to the Hawk using guide points before deballasting - allowing the vessel to come up slowly under the Transocean Winner.

"It's intended that all this work will take place in daylight tomorrow to monitor any potential pollution but could continue on Saturday morning if necessary.

"Pollution counter measures are in place and an MCA surveillance aircraft will overfly the area during this operation."

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative For Maritime Salvage and Intervention added: "Our intention all the way along has been to get this operation under way without endangering life or the environment around.

"All the preparation work has been done in anticipation of this moment so that we could be ready when the time comes as it now has."

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