Navy ves­sel apol­o­gises af­ter MPA an­chor­age

The Arran Banner - - Front Page - Colin Smee­ton ed­i­tor@ar­ran­ban­ner.co.uk

A naval com­man­der has said sorry af­ter a Nor­we­gian minesweeper an­chored in the Lam­lash Bay No Take Zone.

It is the first time in nine years there has been a se­ri­ous breach in the ma­rine re­serve which came dur­ing the re­cent Joint War­rior mil­i­tary ex­er­cise.

The cul­prit was a Nor­we­gian minesweeper which left the Com­mu­nity of Ar­ran Se­abed Trust (COAST) chiefs ‘dis­mayed’ at the lack of re­spect for the zone. The com­mand­ing of­fi­cer has now apol­o­gised.

Not aware

Fol­low­ing a strongly worded com­mu­ni­ca­tion, from COAST di­rec­tor Paul Chan­dler and co-founder Howard Wood, Lieu­tenant Com­man­der Ole Torstein Sjo apol­o­gised for the in­ci­dent say­ing that he was not aware of the ma­rine re­serve as it was not marked on his nav­i­ga­tional charts.

He added: ‘It was by no means de­lib­er­ate from our side but sim­ply be­cause we lack the par­tic­u­lar knowl­edge with re­gards to the se­abed’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity in this par­tic­u­lar area. If we had known bet­ter we would surely have an­chored in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.

Em­pha­sise

‘With this I would once again apol­o­gise on be­half of the ship and crew. I would like to em­pha­sise that we are very en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious but sadly we lacked the knowl­edge of this ar­eas vul­ner­a­bil­ity and if we had the knowl­edge we would most cer­tainly have cho­sen a bet­ter place to drop our an­chor.’

COAST di­rec­tor Paul Chan­dler ac­cepted the apol­ogy and thanked the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer for his re­ply but ex­pressed dis­may that the South Ar­ran

Ma­rine Pro­tected Area and No Take Zone were not on his charts. He said that the Queen’s Har­bour Master en­vi­ron­men­tal and sus­tain­abil­ity im­pact state­ment for the Joint War­rior ex­er­cise ex­plic­itly stated: ‘No an­chor­ing or dis­rup­tive ves­sel ma­noeu­vres which could dis­turb the sea bed or ad­ja­cent wildlife will take place within 0.5 miles of des­ig­nated MPA.’

Mr Chan­dler con­tin­ued: ‘I un­der­stand that this may be a break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion from our naval au­thor­i­ties to yours but I would ex­pect the boundaries to be present on your chart plot­ter and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems.

Mon­i­tor­ing

‘Your ves­sel is the first large ves­sel to have an­chored within our No Take Zone for a pe­riod of nine years and we have been mon­i­tor­ing the re­gen­er­a­tion of this area year on year with our own work and through var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties.’

While not il­le­gal to an­chor in the zone, mar­itime tra­di­tion has re­spected the ma­rine des­ig­na­tion and large ves­sels have avoided the area as an an­chor­age, un­til this lat­est in­ci­dent.

As an aside and with ref­er­ence to his own Nor­we­gian na­ture re­serves the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer sug­gested that COAST could seek from the Scot­tish au­thor­i­ties, a no-an­chor­age zone for the area which would re­duce the like­li­hood of fu­ture in­ci­dents.

COAST is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the an­chor­ing co-or­di­nates pro­vided by the ves­sel in or­der to asses any pos­si­ble dam­age to the se­abed floor.

The Nor­we­gian minesweeper pic­tured in the Clyde last year.

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