A Transocean semi-submersible drilling rig is hard aground in Scotland’s Western Isles after breaking free from its tow overnight in heavy weather.
The 17,000-tonne drilling rig Transocean Winter was under tow by Alp Forward when they encountered severe weather west of the Isle Of Lewis, Scotland, preventing the pair from making headway. At about 4:20 a.m. Monday the master of the Alp Forward reported that the tow line had parted.
The drilling rig is now grounded on the west side of the Isle of Lewis near Carloway.
There is approximately 280 metric tons of diesel on board, the UK Maritime & Coast Guard Agency confirms. An update from the Coastguard said the pollution risk is low.
There are no personnel aboard the rig. The tug Alp Forward remains on scene to visually monitor the rig.
Some raw video shows the rig hard aground along the rocky coastline and moving in the wind and waves:
Transocean and ALP Marine, owner of the tug, have mobilized a salvage team from SMIT Salvage to deal with the incident. Scotland Police and HM Coastguard Rescue Teams are also on scene.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has launched an investigation into the incident.
Authorities in the UK have warned the public not to visit the rig, enforcing restricted access to the site to make sure that personnel and equipment can get to the scene.
The Marshall Islands-flagged Transocean Winner was built in 1983 and upgraded in 2006. It can operate in water depths up to 1,500 feet and drill to 25,000 feet. A July 2016 Fleet Status Report by Transocean showed that the Transocean Winner had just finished a contract with Marathon Oil in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea this month.
The rig was under tow from Norway to Malta when the incident occurred.
The Alp Forward is a DP II anchor handling tug has 218 metric tonnes bollard pull. The tug is Dutch-flagged and homeported in Rotterdam. The Apl Forward’s AIS track below shows the plight of the tug:
For some, the incident is reminiscent of the Kulluk grounding in Alaska in 2012. During that incident, the Shell-owned ice-class mobile offshore drilling unit grounded in heavy weather on eastern coast of Sitkalidak Island off Kodiak on December 31, 2012 after breaking free from the AHTS Aiviq during a tow from Alaska to Washington.