November 23rd 2018

Orkney Islands Council is currently in the process of purchasing two new tug vessels.

The design and build contract was advertised on the Public Contracts Scotland website late last year and it is understood that a contract award is imminent

Three tugs are currently based in Orkney, the Harald, Einar and Erland, which were built between 1989 and 1992. The new tugs will significantly more powerful with a 75-80 ton bollard pull and full escort notation. The tender specification states that they should have an AZT propulsion system and have forward and after 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 Brian Archibald, the Council’s Harbour Master and Head of Marine Services, Engineering and Transportation.

“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 harbours activity in Orkney".

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.

33 ship-to-ship transfer operations took place in Scapa Flow in 17/18, against a target of 12. This generated £1.27m, compared to a projected income of £420,000 – an increase of 123% from the previous year.

Orkney is also the most 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.

It is hoped that the vessels will be delivered just over a year after contract placement.