Island businesses have received a huge pat on the back from salvors working on a wrecked vessel in the middle of the Minch, as the rescue and salvage operation continues against the odds.

Shipping agents Stornoway Shipping Services have been co-ordinating efforts by island contractors and suppliers as salvage company Resolve Marine works with shipowners Misje Rederi and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to unload hundreds of tons of cargo from the Norwegian-owned cargo vessel MV Kaami.

The mammoth operation, involving dive vessels, cargo carriers, Coastguard aircraft and shore-based co-ordination has been eclipsed in the news because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but in any other circumstances the salvage work would have dominated local headlines.

Weather and the precarious position of the ship have also made the operation especially challenging. Yesterday (Saturday 11 April) SSS representative Alastair Macarthur snatched a few moments from a flat-out few weeks to pass on thanks to the companies who have pitched in to help.

He said: “Every salvage is a challenge but throw in COVID19 and it makes it a whole lot more interesting! We at SSS would like to thank the efforts of all businesses that we have approached for assistance. Once again you have all come up trumps.

“Without you all, we at SSS would not be successful. To us at SSS, you are all key and essential workers. We applaud you all.”

On Thursday 180 tonnes of cargo was offloaded from the grounded vessel after weeks of preparation and survey work to establish the ship’s condition and potential for removal. All potential pollutants have also been removed and planning is now unde way for the next stage of the salvage operation.

The salvage is overseen by the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention supported by the MCA, salvors, the ship’s insurers and the Scottish Environment Group.

Pictures show MV Kaami fast on rocks between the Isle of Lewis and Skye, and other vessels working round the site to remove cargo over a few calm hours late last week (Stornoway Shipping Services)