The chemical-carrying cargo ship Lysfoss that ran aground at the entrance to Loch Sunart ten days ago is currently under tow to Belfast

The 3,718-tonne Swedish-registered Lysfoss is currently being towed by the tug Anglian Earl to Belfast to have her cargo removed before heading to the continent for repairs. It had initially been hoped that the Lysfoss could be patched up and hobble off under her own steam but salvage experts declared the damage was too extensive to repair onsite.

After grounding at 0530 in benign conditions on Monday 7 May, she was shunted round at high tide to anchor 1.5nm east of Tobermory and refloated. Various small craft deployed booms around the stricken vessel to contain leaking fuel oil and their efforts have reduced the impact of this potentially disastrous incident.

Salvage divers found damage to three tanks, two are cracked and one has a star-shaped hole described thus: ‘the metal of the five split strands has bent upwards at a 90 degree angle, with the longest strand radiating to around four metres.’

The Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention (SOSREP), Robin Middleton said yesterday: “The amount of damage to the hull of the vessel prohibited an on-scene repair. At present a number of small craft with towing booms are following the Lysfoss as she is being towed very slowly out of the Sound of Mull, collecting any residue oil.

“Very small patches of light sheen have been seen in the water, which have quickly dispersed. The MCA surveillance aircraft has been on scene throughout the operation this morning.”

The MCA, monitoring the salvage operation from an environmental perspective, said: “A significant percentage of the oil, which entered the water on Friday evening, has been recovered by booming when the Lysfoss was refloated. It has been tracked and evaporation has occurred along with natural biodegrading.” Special measures were taken to protect the fish farms that proliferate in this area of outstanding natural beauty.

The MCA is aware that conditions were generally good and are asking for information from anyone who might have seen the Lysfoss underway in the approaches to the Sound of Mull at around 0500/0530 on Monday 7 May. If you have any information, please contact Rob Middleton on 023 8039 5500.