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SERVICES 
Friday, 11 January, 2002, 18:16 GMT
Stranded tanker floats free
Tug escorts tanker
The MV Willy has been towed clear of Plymouth Sound
A petrol tanker that ran aground near a Cornish village has been re-floated, 11 days after clearing homes in an explosion scare.

The 3,000-tonne MV Willy lifted clear of the beach below Kingsand village after salvage workers raced against the incoming tide on Friday.

The ship floated at lunchtime, well ahead of high tide at 1600 GMT.

During the afternoon it began the journey west to Falmouth, where it was to undergo an insurance assessment and possible repair.

Listing ship
The ship listed heavily as it was towed off

It was being guided by the crane vessel Grey Mammoth and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's towing vessel, Far Sky.

A plane tracked its progress, watching for any leak from fuel remaining on board.

Robin Middleton, Secretary of State's representative for Maritime Salvage, said: "This has been a particularly sensitive incident, given the nature of the area in which the MV Willy found herself."

The vessel ran aground in the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).

Both are of international importance for a number of marine species.

Tough inspection

On arrival at Falmouth, the ship was due to be met by representatives of the coastguard agency and Falmouth Harbour Authority.

It was faced with a rigorous inspection before being allowed to enter the port.

Tanker timeline
Tuesday 1 January, 2245 GMT: MV Willy drags anchors and hits rocks. Crew wade ashore. Police set up no-go zone.
Wednesday 2 January, 0515 GMT: Kingsand homes are evacuated amid fears of explosion.
Wednesday 2 January, lunchtime: a safety crew opens holds to clear petrol vapour.
Wednesday 2 January, evening: many villagers go home.
Thursday 3 January, evening: Kingsand 're-opens' as danger fades.
Saturday 5 January: a floating crane loads salvage gear.
Friday 11 January: vessel re-floated and escorted to Falmouth

The fuel tanks were filled with compressed air to force water out of the bottom of the vessel.

A full diving survey was needed to assess damage to the ship's bottom.

The rescue operation began shortly before low tide at 1000 GMT.

It was hoped the ship would reach Falmouth by Saturday morning.

The MV Willy was driven ashore while sheltering from a storm in Cawsand Bay on New Year's Day.

It led to 150 local people being moved out of their homes after fears that vapour-filled tanks could explode.

The 1981-built vessel had already discharged most of its cargo at Plymouth's Cattedown docks, but was still carrying 93 tonnes of intermediate fuel oil, 41 tonnes of gas oil and fives tonnes of lubricating oil.

Salvors began removing the remaining fuel last weekend.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Janine Jansen
"The MV Willy has been stranded on rocks for 11 days"
Kevin Colcomb, Maritime and Coastguard Agency
"I have to be honest, there is a minor threat of pollution"



Click here to go to Devon
See also:

08 Jan 02 | England
Stricken tanker to be refloated
03 Jan 02 | England
Grounded tanker risk recedes
03 Jan 02 | England
Experts board grounded ship
02 Jan 02 | England
Stranded ship seals off village
02 Jan 02 | England
Stranded ship threatens homes
31 Oct 01 | England
Warship scuttled for divers
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