Advertisement

Thirty-five injured after high winds topple ship over in dry dock

Thirty-five people were injured after a ship that was previously owned by the co-founder of Microsoft toppled over in a dry dock during high winds.

NHS Lothian said 23 people were admitted to hospital, some with serious injuries, while the Scottish Ambulance Service said a further 12 were treated at the scene at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh.

A major incident was declared after research vessel Petrel became dislodged from its holding on a dry dock, with the 3,000-ton ship leaning at a 45-degree angle.

STV reported there were around 50 refurbishment workers on board and US citizens were involved. The US Consulate in Edinburgh said it was monitoring the situation and offering support.

The ambulance service sent 12 ambulances, an air ambulance, three trauma teams and other resources to the scene, while the fire service also attended.

NHS Lothian received 21 patients, with 17 being admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI) for treatment and four to the Western General Hospital (WGH) in the city.  A further two were taken by ambulance to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

Ship topples in Leith dry dock, leaving several injured
Ship topples in Leith dry dock, leaving several injured

The health board said it was forced to cancel outpatient appointments, endoscopies and planned operations to support accident and emergency staff and free up surgeons for the influx.

In a statement issued just after 5pm, it said nine of the ERI patients had been discharged and eight were still in hospital, some with serious injuries. The four at WGH were waiting to be discharged.

The 76-metre (250ft) ship was bought and outfitted by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen but is no longer owned by his estate.

He converted it into a deep submergence research vessel in 2017 and it was one of the few ships worldwide equipped to explore 6,000m (19,685ft) below the ocean’s surface.

It featured an autonomous underwater vehicle capable of reaching extreme depths, a remotely-operated vehicle for use once targets were identified and a multibeam echo-sounder.

The vessel had been used for deep water searches for shipwrecks and war graves at sea, including the lost World War Two heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, which was discovered 18,000 feet (5.5km) beneath the surface.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers and emergency service colleagues are responding to an incident at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, whereby a ship on dry dock has become dislodged from its holding. - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers and emergency service colleagues are responding to an incident at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, whereby a ship on dry dock has become dislodged from its holding. - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

However, it was placed into long-term moorage in 2020 as a result of "operation challenges" during the Covid pandemic and had not been used since.

Adam McVey, a local councillor, said the ship became dislodged in strong winds and he described the incident as "terrifying" for those on board.

The Met Office said a wind speed of 38mph was recorded in Edinburgh at 8am, shortly before the emergency services were contacted, rising to 44mph at 9am.

Several workers on the docks told The Telegraph that they believed the high winds were the sole reason for the incident.

A source said: “It was windy last night into the early hours of the morning and that’s what’s happened here, it’s caused the boat to go up.”

An air ambulance attends the scene after a ship tipped over in the Imperial Dock area in Leith
An air ambulance attends the scene after a ship tipped over in the Imperial Dock area in Leith

Chaplain of the port, Pauline Robertson, from the Sailors’ Society told Sky News that workers were left "shocked and stunned" by the incident.

She said: "The staff that had been on the vessel shared with me their shock, their complete disbelief that this had happened, but also the fact that they had got off that vessel as walking wounded because many of their colleagues and other staff that were on it didn't and had to go to hospital for medical treatment."

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services for NHS Lothian, said: "Our staff are working tirelessly to ensure patients get the best care and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this incident."

Supt Mark Rennie, of Police Scotland, said: "I would like to thank partner agencies involved in the response to this incident which involved a complex operation to make sure everyone was safe.

“There is no risk to the wider public and enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances of what has happened."

An injured person on a stretcher is helped by emergency services - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
An injured person on a stretcher is helped by emergency services - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

HM coastguard sent teams from Fisherrow, South Queensferry and Kinghorn to the scene as part of the multi-agency response.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it had sent four fire engines and "a number of specialist resources". The Health and Safety Executive said it was aware of the incident and was making inquiries.

Dales Marine Services, which runs the dry dock, said it was liaising with the emergency services”.

A spokesman added that the firm’s priority was to “ensure those involved and their families are supported”.


12:12 PM

Several injured as ship topples in Leith dry dock

Fifteen people have been taken to hospital after a ship toppled over in a dry dock in Scotland's capital.