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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 16:21 GMT
Drifting ship under tow to port
Shot of the Vindo in the North Sea
The Vindo missed the second rig by 700 yards

A cargo ship which had been adrift in the North Sea in a Force 10 storm, narrowly missing two gas platforms, was under tow back to port.

A rescue tug reached the 4,500-tonne Vindo at about 0900 GMT on Friday. The ship, which has a core crew on board, is being towed to the Humber.

Weather conditions in the North Sea remain poor with high winds.

The Vindo suffered engine failure 75 miles off the Lincolnshire coast on Thursday afternoon, said coastguards.

The ship is expected to dock at about 0000 GMT on Sunday.

The Vindo first began to drift towards the Murdoch gas platform - east of Theddlethorpe St Helen - forcing the RAF to winch its workforce to safety.

Route of the Vindo
The ship's crew dropped anchor in an attempt to slow the drift, but they were forced to raise it to avoid hitting gas pipelines in the area.

The nine-man crew then managed to restart the engines giving them sufficient power to avert the threat of a collision.

But the vessel again lost power and began drifting towards the Caister platform, which is unmanned.

A Coastguard spokesman said the ship cleared the second platform by 700 yards (about 650m) and it has "been very lucky that it has missed two platforms".

Tony Tuton, Humber Coastguard watch manager, said: "Everyone on board is relieved that the vessel is now secure and en route to the River Humber.

"Weather conditions are still very poor, with 55-63 knot winds and rough seas".

A spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips (UK) Ltd, which shut down the Murdoch gas platform and evacuated all 30 personnel, said: "We are relieved the vessel missed the platform and avoided a potentially serious incident, but are still very concerned about the safety of the vessel and its crew."

She said the personnel had returned to the platform and were carrying out checks in order to resume production.

In September last year the Vindo crashed into another large cargo vessel, Dealer, after failing to respond to radio messages.

Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place 17 miles off the coast of North Foreland, Kent.


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