Scotland’s only council-owned dredger made its inaugural journey from shipyard to sea yesterday.
The £2.5million, 250 tonne vessel inched slowly from the Macduff Shipyard construction shed in Buckie to the bottom of the harbour slipway in a 2-hour operation commencing in the small hours.
Transported on 20 sets of remotely-controlled transporter wheels, the 90-foot ship was floated off at high tide and berthed at a quay within Buckie Harbour.
The vessel is named ‘Selkie’ after the mythical Scottish creatures that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.
The name was chosen by local primary school children, and will be officially conferred on Friday May 6 at a naming ceremony in Buckie harbour, when the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Mrs Clare Russell, will name the ship in the traditional fashion by breaking a bottle of champagne over her bow.
Moray Council is responsible for the maintenance of six harbours, and is the only local authority in Scotland to own its own dredger. The new vessel has been designed to access smaller harbours and will undertake dredging work for other councils around Scotland’s coast.
Council Convener Allan Wright said: “The launch of the Moray Council dredger ‘Selkie’ is the latest major strategic development to be delivered by the council. It is an investment in the future of our harbours and a sound business venture as we anticipate dredging contracts from local authorities around Scotland.
“The new dredger joins a long list of major investments that Moray Council has been able to achieve in recent years, like the completion of major flood schemes, and a continuing programme to build new schools and modernise others.
“Despite the financial challenges, we will continue with strategic and affordable investments that benefit all of Moray.”
The dredger is a replacement for the council’s former vessel, the Shearwater, which was sold as scrap in 2012 ago. Moray Councillors agreed to fund the replacement, and the contract was secured by Macduff Design and Shipbuilding after a competitive tender early in 2015.
The dredger’s engines and electrics will all be tested at the quayside before she undergoes sea trials. Once these are completed she will be formally handed over to the council on May 6.
Buckie Harbour feature image by Rotorworx