A £1.1 million fish farm boat which was ripped from its mooring during a storm has been written off by insurers.
Tiffany of Melfort’s owner, Kames trout farmer based at Kilmelford, near Oban, was informed this week that the damage cannot be economically repaired.
The 66ft vessel came off its mooring in stormy conditions in Loch Pooltiel, Skye, earlier this month and was later discovered sunken close to the Shiant Isles east of Harris.
Oban-based company North West Marine organised a successful and complex salvage operation involving a crane and 240ft barge but unfortunately the ship could not be saved.
The boat, which was unmanned, fell victim to 80mph winds during Storm Aiden. It was pushed north-easterly until it reached the Shiant Isles, where it was forced against rocks and eventually sank.
It had only been purchased by Kames in 2018 and is being described as a sore loss for the company.
Allan MacIsaac, a director at Kames, said: “The salvage operation went well. It was in quite an awkward location and there was a small weather window for them to be able to recover the boat. They did really well to get it recovered quickly without any issues.
“After that it was stuck in Oban for a week because of bad weather.
“The boat which recovered it, Lara 1, is not a vessel which is ideal for rough conditions, which was why it had to wait in Oban before going round the Mull of Kintyre.
He added: “The survey showed there was significant damage, lots of holes in the hull and structural damage.
“It is being written off by the insurers which is a real blow for us I’m afraid.
“Tiffany of Melfort was a new piece of equipment, which we really relied upon. We will struggle without it. We are looking at the options now for replacing it.
“It was used mainly for harvesting and transporting between sites.
“We had it made to our specifications and the design of it was good with a big deck area. We will be replacing it with something similar but we haven’t decided what that will look like or when it will happen.
“We have a four similar boats in our fleet but none are quite as new or as good at doing the job as this one. We will get by with the other boats in the time being.”
Tony Ratcliffe, general manager of North West Marine, said: “The location wasn’t easy, it is very remote in the Shiant Isles.
“She was wedged between a rock and one of the islands so space was tight.
“We sent our vessel Paul B to locate Tiffany of Melfort and survey the area then mobilised the dive team to rig up the lifting equipment.
“On the second day we brought the Lara 1 in and lifted Tiffany of Melfort. It went without a hitch.
“We were able to organise the salvage very quickly because Lara 1, a lifting vessel owned by Hapo Barges in the Netherlands was working in Gourock at the time. We were able to organise the paperwork quickly to charter Lara 1.”