Busy night as drill ship breaks away from mooring close to nuclear site

One of the drill ships at Hunterston terminal – the Valaris DS4 – broke away from its moorings in high gusts late last night. The 105m drill ship, with eight crew on board, broke from its mooring at Hunterston Terminal and started to drift without power.

A spokesperson from EDF Energy which runs the Hunterston nuclear site says: “The station is aware and monitoring the situation but operations haven’t been affected.”

As well as the two tugs which were sent to assist, Troon and Largs RNLI lifeboats, the coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Prestwick and coastguard rescue teams from Largs, Ardrossan, Ayr, Gourock and Cumbrae and Police Scotland attended.

“The wind was blowing at 60 knots when the ship broke away,” Alasdair Woods, spokesperson for the Largs lifeboat told Largs and Mill Port News as the incident unfolded.

“The two tugs are pushing the other drill ship against the quay to prevent it from breaking away in the gusty conditions.

“There is a skeleton crew of eight maintenance staff and they are trying to get the engines started on the DS4 and so far they haven’t managed to do that.”

It has been confirmed that there are no reported injuries and the vessel is currently at anchor. Former coastguard crew members say the vessel managed to start its thrusters to hold steady.

Jackie Pearson from Fairlie saw what happened. He told Clyde 1: “I noticed it was moving and I could see that it was no longer at the jetty. It was about half way from the jetty towards Cumbrae. There were various blue lights starting to appear.

“These boats are ocean drillships in excess of 50,000 tonnes. They have a huge drill platform in the centre of the ship and that’s obviously part of the problem because there is huge windage on these vessels.

“To be quite honest, I wasn’t that surprised it broke away. The length of the two ships was greater than the length of the jetty head. The DS4 was sticking out quite well beyond the end of the jetty.”

Images courtesy of Friends of the Firth of Clyde.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.