Lightering operation underway on grounded Priscilla

Good progress has been made to remove cargo and oil from cargo ship Priscilla (IMO 9411745) in the Pentland Firth, according to acting SOSRep Hugh Shaw. The vessel had been carrying 3,000 tonnes of fertiliser when she ran aground on the Pentland Skerries between Orkney and the Caithness coast, northeast of Duncansby Head, at 03:30 local time on July 18th, while en route from Klaipeda, Lithuania, to Silloth, Cumbria, England. There were six crew members on board the 89-metre vessel at the time.

The operations to prepare the vessel for a refloat were also progressing well, Shaw said. Salvors removed 28 tonnes of marine gas oil from the vessel, leaving 15 tonnes behind for essential services, as the six crew members remained on board and need electrical power. The four tonnes of solidified heavy fuel oil and two tonnes of lubricating oil will also be retained on board.

The Coastguard said that since July 23rd more than 270 tonnes of cargo had been removed to a reception barge, which was taking the fertiliser to Windwick Bay, South Ronaldsay, where the cargo will be loaded onto the MV Priscilla’s sister ship MV Alana Evita. A second barge was loading cargo on Wednesday July 25th and the operation would continue until 1,350 tonnes had been removed.

Pressurized air would then be pumped into the ship’s tanks, ballast would be removed, and an attempt would be made to refloat the vessel at high tide.

If that is successful, a brief inspection will take place before the ship is towed to a safe location for more in-depth investigation.

To control an un-planned re-float during lightering operations a tug will be connected to the stern of the Priscilla once 500 tonnes has been discharged.

A Temporary Exclusion Zone remained at 1,000 metres. At a meeting of the Salvage Control Unit (SCU) held on Tuesday July 24th, further discussions took place on the strategy to refloat the vessel, which remains in a stable condition, but hard aground.

Additional vessels on scene and supporting the salvage operation include the Multraship Multratug 20, Multrasalvor 3 and Multrasalvor 4. Wagenborg have provided the Wagenborg Barge 14 and cargo vessel Alana Evita. In addition, Briggs have provided the Forth Guardsman, Forth Trojan and Sprucelight.

2009-built, Netherlands-flagged, 2,281 gt Priscilla is owned by Beikes JH of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Manager is Wagenborg Shipping BV of Delfzjil, Netherlands. ISM manager is Priscilla Scheepvaat CV of Delfszjil, Netherlands. It is entered with British Marine on behalf of Wagenborg Shipping BV.