Crew member dies as ‘perfect storm’ batters North Sea oil rig vessel

Picture: AFP
Picture: AFP
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A tug boat is on its way to recover an oil rig emergency rescue vessel which lost a crew member after severe weather hit the North Sea at the weekend.

A tug boat was yesterday making its way from Invergordon to recover the 42.5-metre oil rig emergency rescue vessel Vos Sailor after two helicopters rescued survivors following a mayday early on Saturday.

Elsewhere, coastal communities began clearing up the damage wrought by gale-force winds and flooding.

Police said: “The vessel sustained significant damage and 11 crew members were winched to safety during an operation co-ordinated by the coastguard in Aberdeen. It appears at this time that one crew member has suffered fatal injuries.”

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead is expected to visit ports in the North-east today, including Lossiemouth, Fraserburgh and Peterhead, to review damage following weather which government reports said was caused by a “highly unusual” combination of south-easterly gales, low pressure and high tides.

The severe weather over the weekend saw dozens of people evacuated from their homes, roads closed and harbour defences have been battered.

In Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, on Saturday, 25 sheltered housing residents were removed from their homes and taken to a local rest centre.

A section of harbour wall in Lossiemouth collapsed, while a shipping container broke loose and caused damage at North Berwick in East Lothian.

In Peterhead, about 30 people were evacuated from properties in the Roanheads area. An RNLI lifeboat crew went out in what were described as “horrendous” conditions to rescue three people marooned on the east side of Peterhead harbour.

In Wick, on the far north coast, roads were closed and fishing boats were damaged in high winds.

The extreme weather prompted a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Room in Edinburgh where local authorities updated ministers on the storm impact.

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The weather factors that combined this weekend were a ‘perfect storm’ – with those in the communities affected describing it as the worst storm in living memory.

“While some coastal buildings and harbour infrastructure in the North-east has been damaged, early indications are that we have weathered a hugely challenging storm well.

“The tragic death of a crew member aboard the Vos Sailor is deeply saddening and our thoughts are with the individual’s family.

“Already communities are coming together with volunteers helping in the debris clean-up operation, in partnership with local authorities.

“I thank people for their efforts and this community spirit will be important as the worst effected areas start to return to normality.”

A flooding advice centre is being set up at Aberdeenshire Council’s housing office on 
Allardice Street in Stonehaven today.