Emergency tug to be based in Orkney until next March
An emergency tug based in Orkney will provide cover for Shetland and its surrounding waters, the MCA has announced.
Shetland Islands Council has welcomed the news that the specialist handling and towing vessel Herakles, formerly the Anglian Prince, will provide the service until March 2013.
The vessel will be operated by Swedish contractor Reder AB Nestor and will be located “in and around central and southern Orkney”, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said.
Two tugs were previously stationed to provide assistance to vessels around the Northern Isles and other parts of Scotland.
After a contract with Clyde Tugs ceased last September, the government had put a series of temporary agreements in place and had been seeking to end the contracts altogether, but last month announced that funding for a tug would be provided until the end of its spending review period in 2015.
Discussions are continuing between the government and the oil and gas industries to arrange additional cover for Shetland, and the council said it looked forward to hearing more on that.
Council convener Malcolm Bell said: “We will be seeking early involvement in the planning and implementation of the new service to ensure the best possible coverage. The safety and protection of our shoreline is paramount – the memory of the Braer disaster in 1993 still runs deep – and this will be foremost in our thinking as we go forward.”