A call for the reinstatement of the west coast based tug has been made by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Roddie Mackay after a cargo ship lost power off Taransay in the Western Isles yesterday (Thursday) evening.
‘The Fame’, which is crewed by five people, lost her power and reported the reported the incident at about 17.30pm on Thursday.
Two lifeboats and the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter assisted the stricken vessel, which was carrying salmon feed.
Twelve hours later the coastguard agency’s emergency towing vessel, based in Orkney, then arrived to assist the vessel.
Cllr Mackay said: “Last night we had an incident off the west coast which could have seriously impacted marine wildlife and the coastal environment.
“These incidents are all too frequent and we remain very concerned, as do colleagues in neighbouring councils, about the current situation which increases the risks for mariners and the environment.
“We will once again be making the case to the UK Government for a second ETV based on the west coast to address this serious issue.
“We are also raising the matter of deployment of the ETV with the MCA as the Lifeboats from Leverburgh and Stornoway have had to assist the freight ship until the ETV from Orkney arrives more than 12 hours later. It is unacceptable.”
MSP Alasdair Allan has also supported the call for the ETV reinstatement.
He said: “After the Transocean Winner oil rig washed up on the beach of Dalmore last year we were told there was still not a case for an additional ETV based on the west coast, and that the Orkney-based ETV would be undertaking regular patrols to the Western Isles instead. Last night’s incident shows this is not good enough to protect our coast.
“We should all be incredibly grateful for the dedication and skill of the Leverburgh lifeboat crew, who arrived promptly on the scene. However, we are very lucky that last night’s incident did not end with the grounding of a vessel on our shores and this needs to be taken seriously.
“If we look to Europe for a comparison, Germany with a coastline of 2,389km Germany has eight Emergency Towing Vehicles (ETVs) while the UK Government has left Scotland with just one, despite our coastline of 18,672km.
“I once again call upon the UK Government to live up to its maritime safety obligations and reinstate a dedicated ETV for the west coast of Scotland.”