LOCAL engineering firm Malakoff has just started building a 14-metre workboat for Cooke Aquaculture at its new boat building facility at the Greenhead Base, in Lerwick.
The keel-laying ceremony for the new workboat, which took place last week, also served as the unofficial opening of Malakoff's new yard.
It is the first large steel vessel to be built by Malakoff since 2011. The company is confident it can attract more commissions from the local aquaculture industry and beyond.
Malakoff's project manager Ryan Stevenson said the company, which has a long history of building boats, has had plans to expand its boat-building division for some time.
"The catamaran workboat order from Cooke Aquaculture Scotland has allowed us to act on these plans, which have led to the opening of a new workshop," he said.
"This represents a significant expansion for the company and the local economy and we would like to thank Cooke for having the confidence to work with us to develop a workboat to suit their needs."
David Brown from Cooke Aquaculture Scotland said the salmon farming company felt it was important to invest in the local community and its economy.
"Cooke has a long-established working relationship with the Malakoff through the use of their diving services, slipways and inspection and testing services.
"Although Malakoff have never built a boat for Cooke directly, through our investments, we have inherited a number of Malakoff workboats. These boats are still used in our day to day operation and we are looking to replicate their durability in our next build."
Cooke is expanding its local operation with a recent investment of £2 million in cages and equipment for local sites.
The new fabrication facility in Warehouse No.7 at the Greenhead Base is over 80,000 square feet in size and can house up to three of this type of vessels under construction at the same time.
Stevenson said: "It also has enough space to allow a much more efficient build process, with different areas for prefabrication and assembly - basically, steel comes in at one end and a finished vessel comes out the other."
The new development has already created two new jobs. The company has also taken on a trainee project manager at its North Ness office.