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Marine / Investigations continue into minor damage to ferry caused by submerged object

IT IS still unclear what exactly struck a council ferry as it passed through the south entrance to Skerries earlier this year, causing minor damage to the vessel.

The incident with the Hendra and a submerged object happened on 19 May, and investigations are still ongoing.

A meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) harbour board heard on Tuesday that it could have been an item caught in the vessel’s propellor, such as a creel, which was either floating or on the seabed.

Ferries usually use the north entrance but the south one may be utilised when the usual Skerries vessel Filla is in drydock. On the day in question the Filla was in drydock and the relief vessel Fivla had a breakdown, so the Hendra was drafted in.

Ferry and airport operations manager Andrew Inkster said: “The vessel was in an area that it routinely uses, the master is very competent in that area as well.

“We have hydrographic drawings which we’re currently reviewing but I think this may be an instance that we will not be able to actually identify the root cause.”

Meanwhile the harbour board also heard about ongoing issues with discarded equipment and derelict vessels at some of Shetland’s small port facilities.

Harbour board chairman Robert Thomson said it was a case of a “few spoiling it for the many”.

The SIC has also issued letters to agents representing tankers calling at Sullom Voe Terminal reminding them of the ‘area to be avoided’ around Shetland.

This comes after a number of infringements in the last year.

There has also been further engagement with the coastguard on increased monitoring in the area.

The area to be avoided applies to large vessels carrying or capable of carrying oil and other hazardous liquid cargoes in bulk. It aims to keep these vessels away from the Shetland coastline where possible.

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