News / Northern isles tug cover extended

THE EXISTING coastguard emergency towing arrangements for the northern isles will be extended by a further month to allow time to resolve outstanding contractual issues with the incoming tug, which is to be provided by the oil industry.

Earlier this week it was revealed during a meeting of Shetland Islands Council that the BP chartered oil standby vessel Grampian Frontier will replace the coastguard ETV Anglian Sovereign.

Local politicians are furious with the coalition government for refusing to pay for an anti-pollution vessel from the public purse.

On Friday, isles MP Alistair Carmichael said that the current contract has been extended until the end of April to allow for further discussions on indemnity and insurance issues.

He said the extra time could also be used to clarify whether concerns over the suitability of the oil standby vessel, stationed to the West of Shetland, were justified or not.

The switch from the Anglian Sovereign to the Grampian Frontier has already been condemned by some quarters from within the shipping industry who claim that the northern isles will be served by an inferior service.


But others in the industry said that the Grampian Frontier with a bollard pull of around 100 tons and engines capable of 8,500 horsepower, would be sufficient to do the job.

Mr Carmichael said he “genuinely” wanted this properly tested.

“I am pleased that despite some of the extravagant comments earlier in the week the government remains committed to protect the coastline of the northern isles.

“This period will allow for the details of the provision to be put in place, and it will also allow the local maritime industry to test the provision and to satisfy themselves that it will be adequate,” the LibDem said.

A tabletop exercise to test the proposed new arrangements is planned for next week.

The Anglian Sovereign was originally to go off charter at midnight on Saturday.

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