The perilous fate of the Transocean Winner has sparked a series of questions, from whether the existing Hebridean Deep Sea Water route – which passes just four miles off the coast – is far enough out at sea to protect the archipelago from ships in distress, to why such a vast rig was towed along such an exposed route when forecasters warned of treacherous conditions. Some answers must wait for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch to complete its investigation. Others are already the subject of intense debate. Chief among them is a row that has been playing out in the Western Isles for the past six years, but which has received cursory national attention. It concerns the capacity and response of the UK’s emergency towing vessels (ETVs), powerful salvage tugs designed to usher stricken vessels to safety lest they drift on to rocks or vulnerable coasts.
Scotsman 13th Aug 2016 read more »