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Council / Filla engine issue explained as ferry prepares to re-enter service

The Skerries ferry Filla. Photo: Shetland News

SHETLAND ISLANDS COUNCIL has given more information on the events that led to the Skerries ferry needing a new engine at the cost £200,000 to the public purse.

The Filla lost power in its main port engine on 23 February and is currently in Fraserburgh for repairs. She is due back into service tomorrow (Tuesday).

Responding to concerns raised by some in the community that crews had warned management of the risk of engine failure but were instructed to keep sailing, council chief executive Maggie Sandison said there had been no indications that “a known problem” demanded Filla to be removed from service.

“Our engineers had been monitoring the Filla’s port main engine as there was a suspected problem with a liner seal. Oil and water levels were checked and additional tests undertaken on a daily basis,” a council spokesperson said earlier in May.

“Had any changes been observed, the vessel would have immediately been taken out of service.”

Adding further clarification when again approached by Shetland News at the end of last week, Sandison said that the only way to get to the bottom of the liner seal issue would have been to take the vessel out of service for three weeks and lift the engine.

“All the maintenance has been done to the original supplier equipment maintenance schedule, and as the docking was coming up, with the port main engine due for overhaul, we asked engineers to monitor the problem on a daily basis,” she said.

“A professional judgement was taken based on the facts, and everything indicated that we could keep the vessel in service until the imminent dry dock, where the engine was going to be overhauled.

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of spare vessels, we do not have the luxury of withdrawing vessels from service unless absolutely necessary, and as you know, this problem will only get worse as vessels get older.

The Skerries service has been kept running in the meantime with stand-in vessels such as the Fivla and Hendra.

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