Tugs Pull Grounded Transocean Drilling Rig from Rocks in Scotland

Photo: UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Photo: UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Two tugboats helped refloat the Transocean Winner drilling rig at high tide on Monday night nearly two weeks after it grounded in Dalmore Bay on the west shore of Scotland’s Isle of Lewis. 

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the rig was successfully refloated at approximately 10 p.m. local time on Monday. 

The Transocean Winner is currently being stabilized but was due to begin its journey to Broad Bay overnight. It is expected to arrive there by Tuesday evening, the coastguard said. 

A crowd gathered to witness the operation Monday night, posting photos and video online:

Earlier on Monday, the coastguard reported that Smit Salvage and Transocean were finalizing plans for the refloat attempt. The coastguard said that Smit had agreed with Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, on the towage plan from Dalmore Bay to Broad Bay, located on the east coast of Lewis.

There is a 1000 meter exclusion zone around the Transocean Winner for the duration of the passage to Broad Bay.

An aircraft has been sent to monitor for any potential pollution. A survey on Sunday picked up a sheen which turned out to be 200ml and was quickly broken up using boats by Briggs Environmental.

The coastguard said it would provide another update Tuesday morning. 

“We have commenced the final phase of this part of the operation,” commented Shaw in a statement released Monday before the refloat attempt. “The two tugs who will be towing are already connected and standing by off Dalmore Beach. The refloat is scheduled to take place later tonight.”

Transocean Winner aground on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in this photo released by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on August 18, 2016.
Transocean Winner aground on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in this photo released by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on August 18, 2016.

The Transocean Winner ran aground August 8 after breaking free from a tow in heavy weather. The 30-year-old semi-submersible was en route from Norway to Malta and later Turkey where it was supposed to be scrapped. The drilling rig was carrying some 280 metric tons of diesel when the incident occurred. Officials have not yet confirmed exactly how much fuel has spilled from two breached diesel tanks.