An investigation is under way into how a cargo ship ran aground on rocks near the eastern entrance to the Pentland Firth early yesterday.
The Dutch-registered Priscilla was travelling at an estimated 10 knots when it ran on to the Pentland Skerries in calm, clear conditions.
The 2280-tonne vessel, with six crew on board, last night remained high and dry after a series of abortive attempts to refloat it.
The captain of the Priscilla sent a Mayday about 3.30am to report that his 2280-tonne vessel, with a cargo of fertiliser, was stuck fast on the Skerries.
Thurso Lifeboat, The Taylors, was launched and was later joined by the Green Isle, a Stromness-based tug operated by Green Marine.
The 27-metre tug made three unsuccessful attempts to tow the stricken ship off the rocks.
Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention #SOSRep is closely monitoring the grounded vessel 'Priscilla' and is in dialogue with the owner and insurer regarding the future plans for salvage. ©️@RNLI More here: https://t.co/gZjECw2RJQ pic.twitter.com/cik6GAwYFS
— Maritime&Coastguard (@MCA_media) July 19, 2018
A bigger tug, the Multratug 20, then arrived on the scene from its base in Scapa Flow, along with the coastguard’s emergency towing vessel, the levoli Black. They succeeded in pulling the Priscilla clear at
By then, Thurso Lifeboat crew had been stood down and replaced by their counterparts from Longhope.
Thurso lifeboat coxswain Dougie Munro said when his crew arrived at 4.48am, the sea and weather conditions were fine.
“It was like a mill pond,” he said. “It was calm, there was no wind and no swell – it was beautiful.”
Mr Munro said the Priscilla was hard aground.
“It was well up – the only thing that wasn’t ashore was the propeller. The vessel was going abut 10 knots when it hit the rocks.”
The lifeboat crew set off in a small rigid inflatable to check for damage and found very little.
“There was a slight hole in one of the ballast tanks but we did not find any other damage or sign of pollution.”
Mr Munro said the Dutch skipper was very calm and reported that neither he nor any of his crew was injured.
#HMCoastguard respond to 89m cargo ship, with 6 people onboard, aground off #PentlandSkerries #OrkneyIslands. Vessel stable. No major damage and no pollution reported. Refloat preparations underway with #Thurso @RNLI and tugs. MCA's #ETV on route #allsafe https://t.co/ItQ7QEpRWj pic.twitter.com/CA88NWntX2
— Maritime&Coastguard (@MCA_media) July 18, 2018
The lifeboat stood by as the Green Isle tried to tow the Priscilla back to sea.
After two attempts when the tow rope parted, the line was strengthened by a 10-tonne strop but it again proved abortive.
The two larger tugs were able to refloat the vessel at high water. The levoli Black had been stationed off Skye when it was scrambled to help.
The Priscilla had been heading from Denmark bound for a port in Cumbria.
Thurso lifeboat was launched at 03.44am to go and assist a cargo vessel that had gone ashore at Clettack Skerry in the…
The grounding is being investigated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
Eight men were lost when the Cemfjiord sunk near the Pentland Skerries on January 5, 2015 while heading from Denmark to the north of England with a cargo of cement.