The barge passes a fish farm on its way from Loch Carron to Loch Striven.

Stranded feed barge moved from Loch Carron

Vessel sunk by Storm Arwen will be assessed at Bakkafrost Scotland site in Loch Striven

Published Last updated

A salvaged salmon farm feed barge stranded at Reraig Bay in Loch Carron for more than two months has been moved.

The concrete barge owned by Bakkafrost Scotland has arrived at the company’s Ardyne farm site in Loch Striven, Argyll and Bute, after being towed south by the AquaShip tug, Aqua Reflex.

Bakkafrost plans that the barge will be inspected there before a decision is made on whether it can be reused or must be decommissioned.

The almost-new SeaMate feed barge sank at Bakkafrost Scotland’s Portree site off Skye during Storm Arwen in November 2021.

Hydrogen sulphide

Initial work to raise the barge was halted when it was discovered that decomposition of feed had generated hydrogen sulphide, the “rotten egg” smelling gas that can explode when heated and is toxic if inhaled in high concentrations.

The barge was finally raised towards the end of last year and was being transported to a salvage site on Scotland’s west coast by the crane barge Matador 3 just before Christmas when that vessel’s skipper decided to seek shelter from bad weather and beach his cargo in Reraig Bay, Loch Carron.

Bakkafrost has had the crane barge and another vessel at the site for much of the time since then, completing the emptying of the feed barge and waiting for a weather window to continue the barge's journey to to Loch Striven where engineers can properly assess whether the barge can be refitted and reused.

£7 million and counting

Last month Faroes-based Bakkafrost revealed that the operation to raise the barge, move it to Loch Carron, and have vessels on standby to move it again, had cost it more than £7 million to that point.

“We booked around DKK 26 million (£3.75 m) in costs associated with that [in Q4 alone],” chief financial officer Høgni Jakobsen said when presenting the company’s results for the fourth quarter of 2022.

“We have demonstrated that we take our responsibilities seriously when it comes to protecting the environment where we operate and make sure that we don’t do any harm to that.

“In this quarter ([Q4 2022] we performed a complicated rescue operation to lift the feed barge that sunk after the Storm Arwen last winter. We ensured that no oil (diesel) or feed escaped from the barge. It was lifted up, and we have removed the 3,000 tonnes of sludge and feed remains and brought that for biogas.”

The barge under tow by the Aqua Reflex.
The barge will now be assessed by experts.