SHETLAND Islands Council’s harbour board has agreed to rechristen its two Sullom Voe tugs the Shalder and the Tirrick – the names previously borne by the vessels they replaced – after deciding to purchase both boats.
Having previously bought Dutch vessel Multratug 29, the local authority has now decided to also buy its sister vesseel Multratug 30, which it had taken on lease back in March, at a cost of around £7.6 million and financed by external borrowing.
A report from ports and harbours acting manager John Smith highlighted that the estimated £647,000-a-year repayments if the council bought the tug would be a cheaper option than chartering it at a cost of just over £1 million a year.
Board chairwoman Andrea Manson told Wednesday afternoon’s meeting at Sella Ness that, during an informal meeting with tug crews, she had been assured that it is “a good, clean boat – a better boat, even, than the Multratug 29, with fewer hours on her engine”.
She added: “The layouts are the same on the bridge – as near exactly the same as it can be – and the crews and the pilots are all very happy with the vessel.”
Members were also asked to consider the matter of renaming, with Smith pointing out that “while Multratug 29 and Multratug 30 may have been relevant names for vessels in a multi-ship fleet, they are not very appropriate for council vessels”.
He said informal discussions had indicated that retaining the names Tirrick and Shalder – the names of the two previous tugs used at Sella Ness before they were sold to Greek buyers – for the replacement vessels was the most popular suggestion.
Smith’s report stated: “The retiring vessels were very well regarded by staff, by the marine industry and had a positive image in the community. They served the council and Shetland community reliably, safely and to great profit over their considerable careers.
“Both names are immediately identifiable and distinct as radio call signs and they are both well-known Shetland names for iconic birds.”
Councillors Alastair Cooper and Mark Burgess wondered if alternative names should be found, but nobody felt sufficiently strongly to move against Manson’s motion. The vessels will now be renamed at a ceremony on Saturday 9 June.
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