A fleet of tugs in Scotland prevented maritime accidents involving two moored Valaris-owned drillships in high winds
First responders were quickly mobilised to assist Valaris DS4 and Valaris DS8, with a combined newbuilding value of more than US$1Bn, close to the Hunterston Terminal, at Fairlie, UK.
A rescue operation was ongoing from 2 February, when Valaris DS4 broke from its moorings at the terminal quay and started to drift without power off the North Ayrshire coast. Crew on the 228-m, 2010-built drillship deployed the vessel’s anchors and they were holding in high winds. It was reported that two tugs were holding Valaris DS8 in position against the quay to prevent it breaking its mooring lines. At least one other tug was at the scene in case it was required.
Lifeboats and the coast guard are also at the site. Noah Shipmanagement, which manages Valaris DS4, said a skeleton crew of eight people on board had anchored the drillship and were attempting to restart its engines.
Hunterston Terminal is a former coal-handling port operated by The Peel Group, which is working with authorities to stabilise the situation and bring the drillship back to its berth. The Valaris drillships were laid up awaiting more deepwater drilling work during the northern hemisphere winter when operations decreased due to weather.
Elsewhere, an escort tug prevented two container ships from colliding in the Elbe River, near Hamburg, Germany at the end of January. Container ship Montreal Express had to drop its anchors in an emergency after it suffered power failure shortly after leaving the HHLA Terminal in Hamburg. As the 2003-built, Bermuda-flagged ship came to a sudden halt, another container ship was directly in its wake. 2011-built MSC Madrid was on escort and would have collided with Montreal Express but for the swift reactions of a tug on its stern. Montreal Express lost one of its anchors and was towed back to port for inspection and repair. A floating crane retrieved the lost anchor. Montreal Express was then able to resume its voyage to Canada.
More tugs were deployed to avert an accident involving 2011-built Panamax container ship MSC Maria Saveria in the Aegean Sea off Turkey. The Panama-flagged ship suffered mechanical failure as it entered the Dardanelles on 31 January en route to a Marmara Sea port. Dardanelles Traffic Control Centre dispatched two tugs to assist, controlling MSC Maria Saveria and towing it back to the Aegean Sea for anchorage.
In Egypt, tugs assisted an Iranian Aframax tanker after it ran aground transiting the Suez Canal. 1995-built tanker Sahra was transiting Suez in the northern direction to the Mediterranean when it grounded. It was refloated and moved to Great Bitter Lake, then anchored on 1 February
In Argentina, tugs will be needed to refloat bulk carrier Sanko Fortune after it grounded on the Parana riverbank while loaded with 47,000 tonnes of maize on 2 February.
According to Fleetmon, this occurred after the 2012-built, Liberia-flagged ship left the cargo terminal in Puerto San Martin port and was en route to Bahia Blanca. A tug was in attendance as of 3 February.
In the Pacific, another container ship has lost cargo in strong winds and waves, adding to a terrible trend of similar accidents in 2020 and January 2021. It was confirmed Portugal-flagged MSC Aries lost at least 40 containers during a northern Pacific voyage from Los Angeles, US to Ningbo, China. The 14,300 TEU, 2020-built vessel was sailing at a reduced speed after its container losses.