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 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.