Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Helliar taken out of service

The cargo vessel Helliar arriving at Lerwick harbour - Photo: Valian

TRANSPORT restraints on the Shetland lifeline ferry and freight service have been exacerbated after the cargo ship Helliar had to be taken out of service.

Operator NorthLink said on Monday that the 122 metre freighter may have to go into drydock to assess potential damage to its propeller shaft mechanism.

The Helliar had to shut its port engine on Saturday night while on passage from Aberdeen to Orkney when a rope became fouled in its propeller.

The vessel continued at reduced speed arriving at Kirkwall nine hours behind schedule. She continued to Lerwick carrying 19 trailers and two passengers where she arrived at 9pm on Sunday evening, some 12 hours late.

NorthLink said that divers had now removed the rope. A spokesman added: “It may be that the vessel will have to be placed in dry-dock for a more detailed investigation or repair.

“The situation will become clearer once a further underwater investigation has been carried out.”

 

Chairman of the Shetland transport partnership, ZetTrans, councillor Allan Wishart said the news was a “sad reminder” of how Shetland was always drawing the short straw when it comes to the resilience of transport links.

“This is the day we feared might come upon on and we have advised the minister accordingly.”

NorthLink’s managing director Bill Davidson acknowledged that with one passenger ferry in drydock the incident could not have come at a worse time for the service.

“Firstly, I want to apologise to our customers. The circumstances were entirely outwith our control but we are acutely aware of how important these sea links are to islanders and, in particular, to those commercial customers who use our services to get their goods to market.

“We intend to operate a modified timetable which will maximise freight capacity between Aberdeen and Lerwick,” he said.

 

Meanwhile the council’s head of transport Michael Craigie added that this latest incidents highlighted how vulnerable the service was.

“When we see the normal northern isles service reduced to half its normal level during the period of the year with the highest risks of weather disruption it is cause for grave concern for Shetland’s businesses and travellers.

“Looking back over the last two or three years when we’ve had both freighters fully functional we have seen significant disruption resulting in high financial costs and potential reputational damage to seafood sector as well as impacts on imports that are important to daily life in Shetland.

“With strong winds and gales forecast mid week it is entirely possible that we could see disruptions to the freighter service.

“If Helliar is still out of service, then this will leave significant gaps in the schedule with particular impact on time critical freight and passenger journeys. We could be facing some of the worst impacts on service since this the contract was introduced.

 

“We will of course ensure that Scottish Government is fully aware of the risks related to such a significant reduction in service and trust that they will consider events such as this in their assessment of the bids in the current northern isles tendering process.”

Mr Davidson added: “Unfortunately, some calls into Kirkwall are being dropped as a consequence. The modified timetable, as published on our website, which will operate until Helliar returns to service, will see her sister ship, the freight vessel Hildasay, running ‘opposite’ the passenger vessel Hrossey on a six days a week basis.

Working with our freight customers, we’re doing everything that we can do to ensure that urgent, priority cargoes take precedence over non-essential items,” Mr Davison said.

The following timetable has been implemented until further notice. All customers and passengers have been informed:

   

MV Hrossey

MV Hildasay

19.02.12

Sun

No Sailing

KI – AB

20.02.12

Mon

LE – AB

AB – LE

21.02.12

Tue

AB – LE

LE – KI – AB

22.02.11

Wed

LE – KI – AB

AB – LE

23.02.11

Thu

AB – KI – LE

LE – AB

24.02.11

Fri

LE – KI – AB

AB – KI – LE

25.02.11

Sat

LO – AB

LO – LE

26.02.11

Sun

AB – KI – LE

LE – AB

Categories