High winds unlikely to capsize ship in Edinburgh docks – expert

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Police said Petrel was released from the hold at the dry dock

High winds are unlikely to have caused the capsize of a US Navy ship in Edinburgh dry dock, a maritime expert has said.

Dr Iraklis Lasakis, from the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Marine Architecture, said: “It’s very unusual for accidents like this to happen.”

35 injured when research vessel Petrel slips from its hold at Imperial Dock, Leith.

Ten people are still being treated in hospital after the incident on Wednesday morning.

NHS Lothian said 23 people were taken to hospital, some with serious injuries, and another 12 were treated at the dock, run by Dales Marine Services.

The Health and Safety Executive said inspectors would later visit the site to launch an investigation in conjunction with Police Scotland.

Dr Lassakis told BBC Scotland he was amazed the 3,000-tonne ship had been able to land.

“It’s very unusual for accidents like this to happen,” he told The Nine.

“Having been involved in many dry docks around the world, and through my academic career, I have never encountered an accident like this. Nothing like this has ever happened before.”

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Images on social media showed the ship at a 45-degree angle

According to Met Office data, winds were gusting inland at 38mph (61km/h) from the pier at Gogarbank at 08:00. But Mr Lassakis did not expect the wind to be the cause of the incident.

“So it’s unlikely to have been tipped by the wind.

“It’s something that really needs to be investigated very, very thoroughly to determine the root cause of the whole accident, but I have to say it’s a very unusual thing to happen in a dry dock.”

A major incident was reported after emergency crews were called to the dock at 08:30.

NHS Lothian said 15 patients were taken by ambulance to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE). Four people were taken to Western General Hospital (WGH) and two to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

Of the 17 people treated at RIE, nine have been discharged and eight are still in hospital, some with serious injuries. Four patients are awaiting discharge at WGH.

Two patients treated in Fife remain in hospital.

The US consulate thanked emergency services for their “immediate response” and said it was offering support to affected US citizens.

The 76 m (250 ft) Petrel was purchased by the United States Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center in October 2022, and is operated by Oceaneering International.

The ship previously belonged to the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

It was placed on long-term moorage in 2020 as a result of “operational challenges” during the Covid pandemic and has not been used since.

A US Navy spokesman said: “We are continuing to communicate with our contacts on the scene to understand what happened, the actions taken and the long-term implications.

A Dales Marine Services spokesman added: “We can confirm that everyone on board and at the facility has been accounted for and our priority is to ensure the well-being of all those affected.”

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