A Scottish islands council is in negotiations to acquire two tugs to boost marine services at a major tanker terminal and cruise ship destination.
Orkney Islands Council has confirmed it is currently in the process of purchasing two new tug vessels. It told Tug Technology & Business that a contract award is imminent almost a year after the tender was advertised on the Public Contracts Scotland website. It is expected that the tugs will be delivered just over a year after contract placement.
Three tugs are currently based in Orkney, Harald, Einar and Erland, which were built between 1989 and 1992. The new tugs will be significantly more powerful, with 75-80 tonnes of bollard pull and full escort notation. The tender specification states they should have an AZT propulsion system and have forward and aft winches to accommodate the broad range of towage tasks in and around Orkney.
“The current tugs have served us well and safely, but are now approaching the end of their working lives,” said the Council’s harbour master and head of marine services, engineering and transportation Brian Archibald.
“Our plan is for a phased replacement programme. The Council has agreed to purchase two new tugs, which, with greater power and manoeuvrability, will have the operational flexibility to further improve the safety and efficiency of towage tasks in local waters and further afield.”
“It will be funded from accumulated surpluses, which have been boosted recently by strong levels of harbour activity in Orkney,” said Mr Archibald.
The Orkney tugs provide a 24-hour, year-round towage service, and are involved in a broad range of operations.
In addition to considerable tanker traffic linked to the Flotta oil terminal, Scapa Flow regularly hosts ship-to-ship transfer operations of crude oil, gas and other products, and has proved to be an ideal location for the long-term anchorage of accommodation rigs.
Thirty-three ship-to-ship transfer operations took place in Scapa Flow in 2018, against a target of 12. This generated £1.27M (US$1.67M), compared to a projected income of £420,000 – an increase of 123% from the previous year.
Orkney is also a popular cruise ship destination in the UK and received a record number of visits this year. Cruise liner traffic brought in £1.96M, an increase of 21.4% on the previous year. The 2019 season looks to be even more successful, with 170 port calls planned compared to 140 booked for this year.