Long goodbye as huge Blackford Dolphin oil rig - very slowly - leaves Belfast
After a six-month stay in Belfast, one of the world's largest oil rigs has finally gone – although not very far.
The giant Blackford Dolphin rig began its departure from Belfast Harbour yesterday.
But the huge structure's slow progress means that it will remain in sight for up to eight days.
Pulled by four tug boats, the colossal rig took over three hours just to leave the harbour.
Its arrival from Brazil last November for a multi-million pound refurbishment at Harland & Wolff provided work for 400 and boosted the economy.
Originally expected to stay for just 50 days, the offshore drill spent six months here after structural defects were discovered. It became a familiar part of the Belfast skyline, competing with the shipyard's famous gantry cranes Samson and Goliath for attention.
The rig will be towed to the entrance of Belfast Lough to undergo sea towage preparations, which will last for another three days.
It will then travel to Bangor Bay to pick up anchors before continuing onwards.
The departure will curb fears that its extended stay would have left the two Belfast cranes unable to complete scheduled work for one of Harland & Wolff's renewable energy clients later this month.