Oil transfer from stricken tanker delayed again
Winds of near-hurricane strength have further delayed the transfer of oil from a damaged tanker anchored at the entrance to Belfast Lough.
The ship will remain where it is until the weather improves.
The Genmar Companion has been sheltering off the Copeland Islands since a crack was discovered on the upper deck of the merchant vessel on December 16.
Fendercare Marine was due to start the transfer of 54,304 tonnes of oil to the BW Seine on January 1, but the operation has since been cancelled on a number of occasions by stormy weather, which worsened over the past 36 hours.
Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's representative for maritime salvage and intervention, is overseeing the operation.
He told the Belfast Telegraph last night that sea conditions do not have to be completely calm for the cargo transfer to take place, but the weather of recent days has just been too severe.
The ship-to-ship oil transfer can take place in wind speeds of up to 35 knots. Yesterday the wind speed was 70-78 knots.
"As soon as we have a window to do the ship-to-ship transfer safely we will take it," Mr Shaw added.
"Winds have been dropping a bit, but it looks unlikely the operation will take place on Wednesday."
Mr Shaw explained that a number of locations, including Milford Haven, were considered for the operation before Belfast was selected as the most suitable place to carry out the cargo transfer.
He said safeguards will be observed throughout the 24-30 hour process to ensure the safety of the crew, the environment and other vessels in the area.