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Easter Ross port splashes out £600,000 on new vessel to 'future-proof' operations

By Philip Murray

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The new pilot boat in action.
The new pilot boat in action.

AN "extremely special" new £600,000 custom-built vessel will help "future-proof" an Easter Ross port, it was claimed this week.

The Port of Cromarty Firth in Invergordon has invested in a new custom-built Interceptor 48 pilot boat, The Dalmore, to replace its 45-year-old predecessor.

The latest addition to the port’s fleet was made by world-renowned boat-builders Safehaven Marine in County Cork, Ireland.

The Dalmore will be used to transport pilots between land and the vessels that come into the Cromarty Firth.

They are the marine experts who possess a unique knowledge of the Firth such as its water depths, currents, and navigational hazards and are responsible for piloting the ships safely through the busy waters.

Dale Stephen, the port’s marine crew supervisor, and Graham Grant, marine support manager, project managed the build of The Dalmore to the port’s unique specifications.Mr Stephen said: "This has been an incredible project to work on.The Cromarty Firth is a unique and very busy stretch of water, so we needed something extremely special to cope with the everyday demands of our customers.

“Our current pilot boat is 45 years old, so she has served us well, but this new investment gave us the opportunity to future-proof this new boat, and to design something that could last us 45 years and beyond that met all of our very specific needs and requirements.

“The Dalmore is big, 15m long and 4m wide and she can carry six pilots, instead of the current four, which gives us greater capacity at busy times, and cuts down on return trips to the quayside. She also has two state of the art Volvo D13 marine engines of 500bhp, capable of max speeds of 25 knots at 1850 rpm whilst still providing economy and fuel efficiency. Sea trials in Ireland proved that our confidence in the pedigree of this boat was completely justified.”

Graham Grant added: “The port’s marine team are extremely satisfied with Dalmore and are looking forward to operating this wonderful new boat. She will provide a safe and stable platform for performing pilotage operations in our often challenging conditions.”

Frank Kowalski, managing director, Safehaven Marine, said: “All our vessels are built to the highest standards of strength and engineering and are renowned world-wide for their exceptional sea-keeping abilities.

"We were established in 1996 and have built over 138 vessels, supplied to 27 countries worldwide with over 40 pilot vessels in operation globally. It was a pleasure to work with the Port of Cromarty Firth on The Dalmore."

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