Commuters descending Summer Hill onto Douglas seafront this week could well have thought oil had been discovered in the bay.
In fact the structure which has been moored at the north end of the bay is the support rig Excalibur, which normally supports workers constructing the Walney wind farm in the Irish Sea.
The rig is currently taking refuge from the bad weather and its support vessel, the tug Valliant, is berthed at Douglas’ Battery Pier.
The rig does not move under its own power but has to be towed by another vessel.
Workers supported by the rig are engaged in taking small samples from the sea bed for analysis to decide the best position to support the wind turbines.
Douglas port manager Chris Clark said: ‘It’s a careful operation so anything more than about one metre of swell and they can’t work. So they come here and settle in the bay and the tug which tows it berths here too.
‘They take the opportunity to take on supplies while they are here, so it’s good for the island. When the weather improves they can go back out to the wind farm site.’
The testing is likely to continue for another four months so the rig is likely to return to Douglas from time to time during that period.
Another vessel, also involved with the Walney wind farm construction, called the Fugro Commander, belonging to a UK off-shore company, is also currently berthed at Douglas.
‘It means the crew have access to the shore and apparently Douglas bay is a good place for the rig because it provides a sound base for them to put their legs down.’
A consignment of supplies and technical equipment for the crews was also delivered to the island by the Ben-my-Chree recently. The items were then transferred by the tug to staff on board the rig.