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COUNCILLORS in Shetland have expressed grave concern over delays in delivering two new tugs for the oil port of Sullom Voe.
A meeting of the council’s harbour board heard on Wednesday that the earliest possible delivery date for the first of the two £7 million vessels would be “mid to end of November”, more than half a year after the original delivery date.
Problems with the steering and the exhaust pressures on the Solan and Bonxie were currently being dealt with at the Union Naval shipyard, in Valencia, Spain, the board heard.
SIC harbour master Roger Moore insisted that any problems with the two tugs would be sorted before the council accepted them.
He said the contract signed with the Spanish shipyard ensured that the local authority would not suffer any losses due to extra work that might be needed for the vessels to meet the specifications laid down in the contract.
But referring to the problems the council is still experiencing with one inter-island ferry built by a Polish shipyard in 2002, north isles councillor Robert Henderson warned that mistakes should not be repeated.
“Everything needs to be right before she leaves the yard. We don’t want to end up with a second Linga,” he insisted.
Councillor Iris Hawkins said she was surprised at the time it was taking to sort out these problems, comparing this with her experience of buying a new car, or washing machine, which she could return if initial faults were not rectified.
Capt Moore reassured councillors that what the council had ordered was not “a bespoke tug” but a standard tug with some of its specifications changed.
So far just 60 per cent of the total cost had been paid to Union Naval shipyard, and the council had the right to hold back a significant amount of cash should further delays occur.
The directional stability problems with the steering was a problem to be sorted between the ship yard and the manufacturer Voith, and had nothing to do with council, he added.
Board chairman Alastair Cooper said: “I am happy that the council is not in the middle of this. It is up to the yard to resolve this. I am confident that we will get what we have asked for.”
Capt Moore will now have to prepare a detailed report for the next board meeting in November highlighting the problems still to be resolved and discussing any financial risks to the council should the two tugs be further delayed.
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