The UK Governments Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has awarded a five-year contract for a new Scottish emergency towing vessel (ETV), to begin on 31 December 2016.
The ship - the Ievoli Black - is 70 metre towing vessel of some 2283 gross tonnes and a bollard pull of 139 tonnes. The vessel is experienced in ETV operations, having served as an ETV for the Netherlands from 2010-13.
The ship has sailed from her current station in the Adriatic and is making her way to the UK in time to relieve the existing MCA tug (the Herakles), of its duties by the end of the year.
The emergency tug is funded by the UK Government. Ministers announced earlier this year that they would guarantee funding for the next five years to support maritime safety in the area.
Following comprehensive engagement with local stakeholders through spring 2016, the risks to shipping off north and north-western Scotland were assessed and requirements established. The contract was awarded after an open market competition involving 22 bids and in early August, tenders were invited to meet a broad array of capability. The bids were evaluated based on vessel type and dimensions, age, bollard pull, speed, crew complement and experience, training and exercises, efficiency and the chargeable day rate. The exercise has resulted in the choice of a modern and fuel-efficient tug.
This award demonstrates the UK Governments commitment to protecting the marine environment, specifically recognising the particular challenge in north and north-western Scotland where commercial tugs are scarce. The new contract provides the region with a better vessel which will regularly patrol her designated operations area.
UK Government Minister John Hayes said:
I welcome the arrival of our new tug. Maritime safety is of the greatest importance to the UK Government. This Scottish ETV will stand ready to support commercial vessels which get into trouble at sea and in doing so, will safeguard the Scottish coastline.
The MCAs Director of Maritime Operations Richard Parkes said:
Maritime safety is always our priority. This is why we have secured a new emergency towing vessel to protect the shores of north and north-west Scotland, where the ready availability of commercial towage is not guaranteed.