The impending loss of the coastguard tug will make Shetland more vulnerable than has been the case for years, according to chairman of the harbour board Alastair Cooper.
Speaking at a board meeting today, Mr Cooper said he was particularly concerned about parts of the coastline not designated as harbour areas, including the “Atlantic frontier” of west of Shetland developments.
Infrastructure chief Gordon Greenhill said the matter was being pursued by the council, with a small internal group which includes representatives of KIMO and the tug union having been set up to publicise the issue and lobby government ministers. Letters expressing opposition to the removal of the tug have already been sent to various ministers, including shipping minister Mike Penning.
Meanwhile, the two new tugs for Sullom Voe could be in Shetland “before the end of the year”, Mr Greenhill told the same meeting.
He said Sullom Voe harbour master Roger Moore is currently in Spain where the tugs have been built, and will be participating in the vessels’ “intensive” sea trials for the next fortnight.
Modifications to both tugs, Solan and Bonxie, have been carried out, and discussions with the shipyard, engine manufacturer and hull designer as to the nature of the problems have taken place.
Final payment in the £14million project will not be made until the tugs are deemed to perform satisfactorily. Mr Greenhill said he was “optimistic” the delivery date would be before the end of the year.
The Stanechakker, one of the port’s original tugs dating from 1978, was sold recently for £734,000. This is the total income after subtraction of sale costs.