Transfer of oil underway from Genmar Companion

A major operation is underway in Belfast Lough to remove 54,000 tonnes of oil from a damaged tanker.

The Genmar Companion has been sheltering since a crack was found on its deck 40 miles off Tory Island on December 16th.

The operation to transfer the vacuum gas oil onto the BW Seine has been delayed several times due to bad weather conditions.

The operation to remove the oil from the Genmar Companion began late last night, and is expected to take up to 36 hours.

A 23-strong crew have been on board the ship since the crack was detected when passing the Donegal coast before Christmas.

A one-mile exclusion zone has been put around the ships while the transfer takes place.

The crack in the deck of the Bermudan-flagged tanker was first noticed as it passed 40 miles west of Tory Island on its journey from Rotterdam to New York.

The damage is not believed to have extended to the oil cargo holding area of the ship, it was decided to  take shelter in Belfast Lough as a precautionary measure.

After the ship-to-ship transfer is complete the ship will be taken to Belfast harbour for repairs.