There is intense activity today (Friday 3 April) around the grounded cargo vessel MV Kaami, which has been stranded on rocks between Lewis and Skye since last month.
A cluster of vessels including local dive-boat Venturer (Seatrek) and workboats including C-Odyssey, contracted from Orkney-based Leask Marine, have this morning joined the patrol tug Multratug 3 in the seas around the stranded ship.
Latest salvage operations have included the removal of pollutants from the vessel by salvage company Resolve, while salvors and specialist divers carry out onboard and underwater surveys.
Salvors intend to re-float and remove the vessel under the supervision of the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention. Also involved in the operation are the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the ship’s insurers and the Scottish Environment Group.
So far, specialist salvage teams have removed most of the remaining fuel and contaminated seawater from onboard fuel tanks for recycling and disposal ashore.
The fuel removal operation is expected to be completed today.
Most other pollutants and loose material such as paint, ropes and buoys have already been taken from the vessel and to shore at Uig in Skye for disposal or recycling, using vessels such as the Forth Warrior, which is also on-scene today.
Forth Warrior is operated by Briggs Marine, specialists in marine salvage and oil spill response. The company were involved in the salvage operation around the Transocean Winner on the west coast of Lewis in 2016.
The MCA’s counter-pollution team are continuing to support operations, with HM Coastguard fixed wing aircraft carrying out regular monitoring flights over the site to provide aerial footage and detect and assess any pollution.
It is believed that around 28 cubic metres of diesel have escaped from the ship following the grounding. The Scottish Environment Group is aware and has assessed the impact of the pollution as low and nonpersistent.
Salvors are working on preparing a suitable barge in the Western Isles to bring the cargo off the vessel when weather and sea conditions allow for safe operations. Arrangements for dealing with the offloaded cargo are being developed with waste regulator Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
Divers are again in the water today after being forced to suspend operations on Tuesday (March 31), when sea conditions prevented a full survey of the seabed area. Forecast weather conditions will bring further delays to the work as strong winds are forecast to build from tomorrow and through the weekend.
The MCA said that all efforts are being made to resolve the incident as quickly and safely as possible. A temporary exclusion zone of 500 metres remains in place around MV Kaami and the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch is carrying out an investigation remotely with assistance from the salvors.
Pictures show the fuel and loose cargo removal operations earlier this week (MCA).