MV Danio Farne Islands

Published On: March 17th, 2013By Categories: Blog, Fieldcraft & WildlifeViews: 261

At around 0430 on Saturday the 16th March the MV Danio, a 80 metre long cargo vessel issued a distress call after it became grounded on the ‘Blue Caps’ low lying tidal rocks of the Farne Islands to the south west of The Longstone.

The Danio has a cargo of timber on board and despite confirmation that the bow has been breached there is no spillage of fuel or oil at the moment. The Danio is a fairly new vessel, built in 2001 with a double hull design which has helped prevent what could have been an ecological catastrophe for the wildlife of the Farne Islands.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps, Farne Islands. Alan Hewitt Photography.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps, Farne Islands.

At this point little is known about how the Danio set a course right through the middle of the Farne Islands nature reserve. The vessel was on a course from Perth in Scotland to Antwerp in Belgium. Yesterday Maritime GPS data suggested the vessel took a straight course for many miles prior to becoming grounded. In most cases ships will pass the islands to the east.

We have to be thankful the Danio was not a vessel carrying a cargo of oil or other fuel. An oil spill would have been nothing less than catastrophic to the Farne Islands environment and the hundreds of thousands of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes, fulmars, eider ducks and terns which will shortly arrive for the breeding season. It is a sharp reminder of just how vulnerable the wildlife of the Farne Islands is to external forces.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps, Farne Islands. Alan Hewitt Photography.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps, Farne Islands.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps, Farne Islands. Alan Hewitt Photography.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps, Farne Islands.

Last year the Royal Air Force agreed to a formal no fly zone over the Farne Islands after a low flying jet caused panic amongst cliff breeding birds resulting in chicks and eggs drowning in the seas below. Perhaps this event demonstrates a need to look at such an exclusion zone for shipping? According to a maritime representative of the Secretary of State there is no formal exclusion zone for such large vessels sailing around the islands.

Thank you to Andrew Douglas of Serenity Farne Islands Boat Tours for his ongoing support in facilitating my Farne Islands photography.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps with Longstone Lighthouse in proximity, Farne Islands. Alan Hewitt Photography.

MV Danio Grounded on the Blue Caps with Longstone Lighthouse in proximity, Farne Islands.

2 Comments

  1. katie wirght March 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    alan hewitt i think you will find if an exclusion zone for large vessels existed it would not have made any difference. Large vessels of this nature would never have been this close to the Islands. The only large vessel that would be intentionally this close would be a Trinity House tender on official business.
    As for the no fly zone with the RAF I have wondered for some time what impact this will have on any sea rescues during the breeding season. I know for a fact that the RAF have always a great asset when assisting the RNLI.

    • Alan Hewitt March 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Katie, thank you for your comment.

      But as we can see it was too close to the Islands! The key issue is how the Danio ended up in this predicament and the pending investigation will look at this. I have no idea how many safeguards are in place in the navigation systems of vessels to help prevent this happening but surely there is something? The biggest irony is the lighthouse right next to the grounding site! Would a formal exclusion zone prevent the vessel from navigating the course it did to start with? Lots of questions!

      The Royal Air Force exclusion zone is fairly new but given the local knowledge of the crews at RAF Boulmer I am sure they would be aware that any helicopter rescue during the breeding season would be extremely dangerous to the helicopter, crews and anybody on or around the islands, regardless of the formal exclusion zone. I am not sure of any historical rescues by helicopter during the breeding season – maybe any casualty would need to be removed by boat to a place the helicopter could safely transfer them to the aircraft.

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