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As the Rampion Windfarm takes shape, we are supposed to be gazing out to sea as the massive turbines appear on the skyline, but instead, it’s ‘Moby Dig’ that has been attracting the attention.

Drive along the coast between Lancing and Worthing and you will see a large digger stranded a few 100 yards or so off the beach.

It seems that Moby was the victim of a somewhat embarrassing mishap that occurred whilst the operator was boiling a kettle and the digger fell into a hole it had just dug. It has been there for a number of weeks and dubbed ‘Moby Dig’ by a poll of Worthing Herald readers.

Moby is a specialist digger, designed to work in shallow water, but is now giving Eon, the owners of Rampion, a dilemma as they decide whether to try and recover the digger from land or sea. Even at high or low tide the sea is either a bit too shallow or deep and specialist recovery equipment is likely to be needed.

No doubt Eon will have insurance in place for the damage to the digger, but the kettle incident shows just how easy it is for accidents to happen and how expensive they can be. It is not just the damage to the digger itself, there is the loss of its use. If it is hired in by Eon there could be a responsibility for ongoing hire charges or if it belongs to Eon, as it is such a specialist piece of equipment, there may be the need to hire a replacement so as to not delay projects elsewhere. There is also the potential liability for damage or injury, although Eon have already removed the diesel to minimise any risk of pollution, so hopefully that will not be an issue with this incident.

However, it may be that the recovery could cost as much as the digger and that was certainly the case with the last ‘beach attraction’ in the area when tonnes of timber washed up on Worthing’s beaches in 2008.

Many will also remember the beaching of the cargo ship Athena B near Brighton’s Palace Pier in January 1980. That took over a month to re-float, but by that time the ship was so badly damaged it was just towed away for scrap. The Athena B still has a legacy, with one of its anchors keeping Steve Ovett’s statue company on Brighton Prom and of course the Athena B fish and chip shop in Boundary Road.

Whether Moby Dig has such a legacy some 40 years on remains to be seen, although if the recovery is going to be that difficult (or expensive), it may still be there rusting away. Could it be our very own ‘West Pier’?

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