Hawick crew on Britannia leak alert

THE fire station’s Green Watch answered an emergency call to help pump out of the Royal Yacht Britannia when it began sinking last Friday morning.

The local crew was included in the operation launched by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service immediately after it was discovered that the yacht was leaking at around 11am, owing to the Hawick station boasting one of only four specialised high-volume pumping vehicles in Scotland for use at large-scale flooding incidents.

Eight fire engines were despatched to the harbour in Leith where they used ejector pumps to remove the water – blamed on a leaking door seal. And although the situation had been rectified by the time the Hawick firefighters arrived, a spokesperson for the service says it was important they attended.

Spokesperson Graham Inglis told the Hawick News: “The vessel had listed over to eight degrees, and it hadn’t been quantifiable how quickly the situation would be corrected, so due to the journey from Hawick we asked for the high-volume pump almost straight away so we had it in attendance.”

He went on: “It is difficult to know how long these things take but as it happened the pumps we were using were sufficient and things moved quite quickly.

“By the time the Hawick crew arrived and appraised the situation, the ship had come back to the vertical.

“However, the high-volume pump was denoted from the vehicle ready to be deployed, and without doubt the Hawick crew’s skills and expertise certainly would have been able to make a difference.

“We certainly did take their advice, and it was the correct decision to call in the high volume pump.”

The 412ft vessel, now a tourist attraction moored in Edinburgh, had been due to be moved at 9.30am to a dry dock a few hundred metres across the harbour to have her hull repainted when officials noticed she was taking on water.

A tug arrived later at around 3.30pm and the moving of the iconic ship was finally carried out, with Britannia now securely tied up while investigations are carried out.