The first of two new tugs for Sullom Voe, which will be the most powerful ever used by the harbour authority, was launched in Spain last week.
The 40-metre vessel, to be named Solan, was built in Valencia and enjoyed a trouble-free launch at the United Naval Valencia shipyard last Thursday.
SIC head of ports and harbours Roger Moore, who attended the ceremony together with harbour board chairman Alastair Cooper, engineering manager Peter Gray and chief engineer Jim Christie, said: “Thankfully everything went smoothly.”
The launch had been “sedate”, Capt Moore said, with the tug inching down the slip on a cradle. Eventually the remaining wire was cut and the vessel slid by gravity down the slip, with a tug pulling her into the water. Buoyancy bags were fitted to the cradle to make sure the new vessel did not hit the harbour bottom. Also present at the launch were the onsite supervision team, representatives from the shipyard and representatives from Lloyds.
Capt Moore said the procedure went “swimmingly well”. The Solan was then towed to a lay-by berth for final fitting out before sea trials. A celebratory meal was later hosted by the yard with traditional Spanish delicacies.
The Voith tug has a moulded beam of 14 metres and a moulded depth of five and a half metres. She has a bollard pull of 70 tonnes both ways with indications that she would exceed that, Capt Moore said.
The Solan is stronger in power and construction than her predecessors, with strengthening stringers behind the steel plates enabling her to withstand an impact of up to five knots without being damaged.
She will now undergo final fitting at the building yard before undergoing a series of sea trials. It is expected that she will be delivered to Shetland by the end of April 2010.
The name Solan (gannet) was chosen in a Shetland schools competition won by pupils from Bell’s Brae, Happyhansel and Sound Primary Schools who all chose the same name. The brief was that the name had to be relevant to Shetland and be easy to say on the radio. It then had to be vetted by the harbour board and the Registry of Shipping.
The second tug in the £13.3 million tug replacement programme is due to be launched at the same yard in late January or early February and will be named Bonxie (skua). This name was chosen by pupils from Skeld Primary School, who will join those who chose Solan in a naming ceremony.
The Union Naval Valencia yard is part of the Boluda group which has interests in tugs, ports, container ships and wine.