Orkney Towage Company Ltd. was formed on 21 April 1976 to primarily to provide towage services for the then Occidental Oil Terminal on Flotta. Since this time, Towage services, (now as a division of Marine Services with in the framework of Orkney Islands Council) is now primarily engaged in providing the towage services for the Oil Port of Scapa Flow.

Their duties include assisting in the berthing and sailing of oil tankers and gas tankers from the Jetty and Single Point Mooring operated now by Talisman Sinopec (UK) Ltd plus the berthing and sailing of oil tankers involved in Ship-to-Ship operations and escort duties for oil tankers arriving and departing Scapa Flow.


Towage Services is signatory to the CAST agreement (Coastguard Agreement for Salvage and Towage), and under the CAST agreement the MCA may call upon their services (subject to availability) to assist in salvage operations were a vessel is in danger of causing pollution, danger to other shipping or to assist in counter pollution duties. On occasions when the service of a tug is not required in Scapa Flow, Towage Services are available for third party usage within the area of the North of Scotland.

The three 55 tonne bollard pull tugs and their crews are also a key part of the Oil Pollution Response Contingency Plan for Scapa Flow, each tug has a knuckle boom crane which can be used for deploying pollution equipment as well as transporting equipment to the location of a pollution incident. Tug crews are involved in regular oil pollution training exercises with the Orkney Islands Council Department of Marine Services. The crews employed onboard the tugs are highly skilled and experienced personnel and are all certified to STCW ’95. In 2003, Towage Services achieved full compliance with the requirements of the International Safety Management Code (ISM code).

In recent years, Towage Services as played a major part in the installation of Renewable Energy Devices in Orkney. The installation of the Openhydro tidal device at the Falls of Warness and the further installation of the EMEC wave testing device on Orkney's west coast demonstrated the versatility and experience of the towage crews at their best.

For further details on Towage Support services please contact:

Dougie Manson, Towage Superintendent,
Harbour Authority Building, Scapa, Orkney, KW15 1SD
Tel: +44 (0)1856 873636
Fax: +44 (0)1856 873012
Email: [email protected]

Technical Information

Orkney Towage operates a 24 hour towage service in Scapa Flow with 3 azimuth stern drive tugs, Einar, Erlend and Harald. The crews serving on board these vessels are certified to STCW 95 standards. Orkney Towage is ISM code compliant.

The tugs each develop a total of 4000hp through twin stern 'aqua-masters'. This equates to a bollard pull of 55t ahead and 47t astern. Each tug is equipped with towing equipment capable of withstanding loads in excess of 120 tonnes. Tug lines are used for most of the operations carried out in Scapa Flow.

Each tug is also equipped with fire fighting monitors and can also be used for counter pollution duties. On occasion, the tugs assist with general port services such as supplying fresh water or gas oil.


The following table outlines the number of tugs available for specific ship movements in Scapa Flow.

MovementShip GroupNumber of tugs
Berthing / unberthing at LPG Jetty< 5,000 tonnes DWT1

Berthing at LPG Jetty

> 5,000 tonnes DWT3

Berthing at LPG Jetty

>5,000 tonnes DWT
(capability class 2 DP vessels or higher)
Unberthing at LPG Jetty> 5,000 tonnes DWT2

Berthing / unberthing at SPMs

All ships2
Berthing / unberthing STS operationsAll ships3

During emergency situations and in exceptional circumstances, additional tugs may be called on for assistance. On occasion, the harbour tugs may be available for assisting vessels manoeuvring in other areas around Orkney and for salvage work. These services may be subject to operational requirements in Scapa Flow.