The two new Sullom Voe tugs will not arrive from Spain until after New Year although the council finally accepted ownership of the Solan this afternoon. Her sister, Bonxie, is expected to be signed off by the shipyard this afternoon.
Council harbour master Roger Moore at the Unión Naval Valencia (UNV) yard said both tugs had exceeded the contract specifications for speed and bollard pull and were quieter in the accommodation than was stipulated.
It had been hoped that the much-delayed £7 million tugs would be delivered by Christmas but the crews from local private company Shetland Maritime who are to take them over on the yard’s behalf will not be needed now until 2011.
The council said in the meantime the tugs would have finishing touches applied to paintwork. Final payments will be retained until everything has been completed.
The tugs will then set off together for Shetland in early January, with an official naming ceremony being planned for shortly after their arrival.
Council harbour board chairman Alastair Cooper said: “I’m delighted that this has now been signed off. The tugs are very important for Shetland’s economy as they will make a big contribution to helping ensure the towage service remains competitive in future years.”
Captain Moore is coming home this weekend but the council is keeping two or three tugmen out in Spain to oversee the last of the commissioning work.
Last week a full crew was out for her Maritime and Coastguard Agency certification.
The first of the 40-metre tugs was originally due in Shetland more than seven months ago but there were problems getting them to steam in a straight line and their exhausts did not function properly.