Transocean's Transocean Winner semisubmersible drilling rig, which ran aground on a Scottish Island more than two weeks ago, is now under tow to safer waters.
The rig was refloated from Dalmore Bay, on west coast of the Isle of Lewis, at 10pm on Monday night, and is now under tow at about 1-1.5 knots per hour to Broad Bay, some 40 miles away on the island's east coast.
Earlier this morning, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) flew its Counter Pollution verification aircraft over Dalmore Bay to examine the water for any sign of discharge, sheen or pollution from the rig. There was no pollution reported in the Dalmore Bay area, the MCA says.
The verification aircraft continued to follow the path of the rig and has detected a slight sheen associated with the ongoing pressurization of tanks to maintain the rig’s stability. Briggs Environmental is accompanying the tow and is assisting by breaking up the light sheen. Additional counter pollution equipment is on board the vessels at immediate readiness should it be required, says the MCA.
A temporary exclusion zone remains in place at Dalmore Bay until the seabed has been checked for debris or environmental impact.
A temporary exclusion zone of 1000m has also been established in Broad Bay.
Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative (SOSREP) for Maritime Salvage & Intervention said: "By all accounts the rig appears to be in a stable condition, and is now due to reach Broad Bay tomorrow morning. Once everything is declared safe, I will be looking at releasing the exclusion zone in Dalmore Bay.
"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 organizations 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 MCA, the emergency services – not to mention all the other supporting organizations, stakeholders and businesses who’ve assisted in this operation."
Image of the Transocean Winner, from MCA.