The motor side-trawler Ormaza was launched from the Bilbao yard of Ardeag SL (Yard No 73) in 1973. She measured 40.06m x 7.85m x 3.84m and her tonnage was 300 gross tons, 132 net tons. She was powered by an 8 cylinder 4SA diesel engine by Atlas-Mak Machinenbau, Kiel delivering 1600brake horse power. Ordered by Pesquerias Ormalarra SA, San Sebastian she operated from that port mainly fishing the area west of the UK and further north.
In September 1999 the Ormaza was operating in the Northern Minch under the command of her usual skipper Andres Arrizabalaga with a crew of thirteen men. On 19th September Ormaza was inward bound to Lochinver to off load their catch. As they approached the entrance to the harbour she ran aground. The skipper claimed he had swerved to avoid another trawler but this assertion was not proven. The crew’s efforts to refloat her were initially unsuccessful but, in response to the distress calls from the trawler picked up by Stornoway Coastguard, the Lochinver lifeboat and the salvage tug Anglian Prince were dispatched to assist. When the lifeboat arrived on the scene she managed to pull her off the rocks at 3pm. Ormaza then proceeded to harbour in Lochinver and offloaded her catch.
With her holds empty the Ormaza set off again on the next stage of the fishing trip. Heading for fishing grounds further north she set off on a course to the north west intent on passing the Butt of Lewis before setting off into the open ocean. The weather was clear and the sea running with a swell but otherwise conditions were good. Inexplicably, less than twenty four hours after her first stranding, she ran aground again a few miles south of the Butt of Lewis at Rubha Meall Geal, Port of Ness. Her distress messages, communicated in Spaninsh to the Spanish Coastguard, were picked up at 3:10am by Irish Coastguards who, in turn, contacted the same Stornoway Coastguard personnel who were astonished to be called in again to assist the same vessel rescued only hours earlier. The Stornoway Coastguard called out the Stornoway lifeboat, a Coastguard tug and a rescue helicopter. The helicopter was soon at the wreck site and winched off the fourteen men aboard.