Troublesome tugs sold with return for council coffers

The two controversial Sullom Voe harbour tugs have been sold by Shetland Islands Council – with a £70,000 return to council coffers.

The Bonxie and the Solan tied up together at Sella Ness.
The Bonxie and the Solan tied up together at Sella Ness.

The Solan and Bonxie were bought by the SIC for £7 million each in 2011 however after steering problems they were put on the market in 2014.

Venice-based towage company Panfido purchased the Solan in December followed by the Bonxie in February.

Today a private report on the tugs – and what went wrong with them – was presented to members of the council’s harbour board by director of infrastructure services, Maggie Sandison.

Mrs Sandison highlighted issues in the decision making process and discussed steps to stop similar decisions in future.

After the meeting Mrs Sandison said “I don’t think a project would get to the place it [the purchase of the tugs] went to with the safeguards that we now have in place.”

She confirmed the vessels had been sold by the council and capital costs for the tugs came to £15,242,340.

The council had fully recovered the capital costs she said, with the additional £70,000 to council reserves.

She added electricity costs, insurance, repairs, maintenance and dry docking costs had been covered by harbour dues.

“It is a good process to have concluded the sale and I think it has been essential to look at what really went wrong and accept the failings and to learn from them,” Mrs Sandison said.

“We have got arrangements in place because we have two tugs but they need to be dry-docked for maintenance and repair.

“We have an arrangement so we can get a bareboat charter for dry-dock cover and breakdowns.”

Solan and Bonxie were ordered from a Spanish shipyard and the 40-metre vessels were delivered behind schedule in February 2011.

With a 70-tonne bollard pull they were the largest and most powerful ever to be used at the port however they had difficulty steering in a straight line and there was a legal dispute with the Spanish boatyard which built the vessels.

• More in this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Andy Holt

    • May 24th, 2016 11:31

    So did we actually get our 15 million back or are we looking at an exercise in ‘creative’ accounting? Mrs Sandison refused to answer a direct question on the actual amount recovered on Radio Shetland last night. In fact her answer was an object lesson in official obfuscation. Further, are those responsible for this catastrophe still in post or retired on a healthy pension? A clear and honest answer to both questions would be much appreciated. Meanwhile, I expect “lessons will be learned,” until the next time!


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.