Coastguard assist stricken vessel

Stornoway Coastguard have been involved in the co-ordination of efforts to aid the crew of a stricken container ship which ran aground yesterday morning (Wednesday).

The Stornoway Coastguard was alerted when the Lysblink Seaways ran aground at Ardnamurchan Point at around 2am.

The Tobermory lifeboat was called to assist, while a tug boat has now arrived at the scene from Shetland.

Experts have now been called in to determine how the vessel can be refloated.

The 423ft vessel, believed to be carrying paper, was travelling from Belfast to Skogn in Norway when it ran aground. The crew remain on board.

Dave Thompson MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has expressed his concern at the news that the Lysbink Seaways is aground off Kilchoan in his constituency.

Mr Thompson said: “As a man from a seafaring community (Lossiemouth) I am very concerned for the crew and hope that they are okay. I am also, however, reassured that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are working with local responders to assist the ship and that the Scottish Government is standing by to offer whatever assistance they may be able to offer.”

The lack of an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) on the west coast has been a point of concern for the local council for some time and Leader Angus Campbell has been calling for its reinstatement for the last three years. An ETV was based in Stornoway until 2011 and now a vessel to cover the west coast is based in Orkney.

The Western Isles LLabour candidiate Alastair Morrison has written to the Scottish Secretary urging the government to reinstate a tug boat in the Minch in order to safeguard our mariners and the marine environment, as well as fishing, aquaculture and tourism jobs which depend on it.

Alasdair Morrison said: “The cargo ship which has run aground off Ardnamurchan serves as a warning of the dangers that threaten our fragile marine environment.

“Whilst we are pleased that at this point there has been no reported pollution, this would appear to be very fortunate. There was a significant delay after the ship grounding before the only available tug arrived in the area due to the distance it had to travel. We once had a tug, based in Stornoway, which allowed a more immediate response. That is the service which must be reinstated. Does there have to be a serious incident before the government listen to the people and accept we need a dedicated tug in the Minch waters?”