Back-up tow­line wrapped around rig, MPs told

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - News - BY LIND­SAY RAZAQ

The own­ers of the tug which was tow­ing Transocean Win­ner have re­vealed the back-up line could not be con­nected be­cause it was wrapped around the base of the rig.

Leo Leusink, a chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at ALP Mar­itime Ser­vices, con­firmed that the ves­sel couldn’t do much once the ca­ble se­cur­ing the plat­form had snapped.

He told MPs on the trans­port com­mit­tee: “We hadn’t time to re­cover the line and the emer­gency tow con­nected to the rig was away.

“We couldn’t get it back be­cause it was wrapped around the base of the rig. We were not able to re­cover the rig.”

He added that when the tow­line fail­ure hap­pened, “it was a mat­ter of one and half hours” be­fore the rig was on the rocks off Lewis.

MPs also heard the sin­gle tow­line hold­ing the rig had been “in good order and con­di­tion” be­fore break­ing in the storm con­di­tions.

Mr Leusink added: “We are still work­ing on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­ter­nally, but the first re­sults are look­ing at the re­main­ing tow­ing gear left on board.

“It ap­pears some of the outer wires were dam­aged and the tow­line stretched and broke.”

Dave Walls, op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor of rig own­ers Transocean, also gave ev­i­dence to the com­mit­tee and said it was not un­com­mon for rigs to be moved at that time of year or by us­ing the wet tow method.

The lat­ter is where plat­forms are pulled along in the wa­ter rather than be­ing trans­ferred onto an­other ves­sel.

How­ever, he added that – with hind­sight – he wished the mas­ter of the tug ves­sel had taken the de­ci­sion to seek shel­ter.

He told MPs: “We had hold points where we could seek shel­ter. When the mas­ter was faced with the weather, he had to make.

“With hind­sight, that de­ci­sion we would prob­a­bly say we wish it had been a dif­fer­ent de­ci­sion.

“(But) he was mak­ing de­ci­sion in real time.”

It also emerged that emer­gency tow­ing ves­sels (ETVs) are not rou­tinely con­sid­ered in risk as­sess­ments.

The of­fi­cial Marine Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch in­quiry into the dis­as­ter is on­go­ing.

And, as a con­se­quence, wit­nesses were not pressed by the MPs to give many de­tails. a

Dave Walls

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