THE world's first offshore wave-power station, the Osprey 1 was said

to be a ''write-off'' last night after it keeled over partially

submerged in a storm.

The #4m Clyde-built structure was caught by the tail-end of Hurricane

Felix and was slewed round and partly sunk in the sea 300-yards off

Dounreay, Caithness, yesterday afternoon.

The local laird, Mr Geoffrey Minter, whose Sandside House is only one

mile from the 75ft-high wave-power station, said last night that the

structure had almost completely disappeared under the waves.

Earlier in the day he said that only a third of the structure that is

supposed to be above the waterline was still showing. ''That is now

leaning over at a 45-degree angle, instead of being vertical as it

should be''.

Powerful Atlantic waves lashed against the already-damaged body of

Osprey, which was launched amid considerable publicity early this month

from the UIE yard at Clydebank.

Late last week, and before this major setback caused by the weekend's

storm, the innovative turbines were removed as a precaution from Osprey,

an acronym for Ocean Swell Powered Renewable Energy.

Then holes were found above the waterline and cracks were seen on

steel welds below the surface, while some metal panels came loose and

fell into the sea.

This was despite the fact that the Pentland Firth area had enjoyed the

calmest seas for years, as the North of Scotland basked in this summer's


Towards the end of last week insurance loss-adjusters were called in

by the designers and owners of the ''green energy'' Osprey concept,

Applied Research and Technology of Seafield Road, Longman Industrial

Estate, Inverness.

Last night Mr Allan Thomson, managing director of ART, confirmed that

the damaged Osprey was likely to be a ''write-off''. He said that the

damage was so severe that the unique power-machine would probably have

to be scrapped.

Mr Thomson said that the damage to the ballast tanks suffered during

the installation of the prototype Osprey 1 had ''now progressed to the

stage where repair is unlikely to be viable''. He said: ''Obviously this

is a disappointment for us''.

Mr Minter, who chairs Scrabster Harbour Trustees said: ''It does seem

such a shame. The waves were quite rough over the weekend, but nothing

unusual for this part of the world.''

Late last week, experts working for ART were examining ways of

removing Osprey to a sheltered location -- probably Loch Eriboll, the

deepwater former Naval Wartime anchorage near Cape Wrath, Sutherland --

to allow repairs to take place.

The European Union invested #500,000 in the venture, while Inverness

and Nairn Enterprise company contributed a grant of #350,000.

Several big name private sector companies also made contributions, and

the device was put into the sea off Dounreay, not only to ''harvest''

the power of waves which make the north coast of Caithness popular with

surfers, but also to tap into the National Grid.

Osprey was designed to push air, forced up and down by the movement of

the waves and compressed by the shape of the structure, through patented

electricity-generating turbines designed by wave-power expert Professor

Allan Wells, formerly of Queen's University, Belfast.

Mr Thomson said that identifying and solving problems was a function

of development engineers and added: ''It is at times like this that you

realise that your insurance premiums were well spent''. The machine was

insured on Lloyd's London Marine Market.

Mr Thomson also confirmed that ART intends to build a second Osprey as

soon as possible, which could be ready in six-months' time and be in the

water by next spring.