CONCERNS ARE BEING raised over Moray’s £2.5million state-of-the-art dredger after it was revealed it spends time tied to up when one member of the crew is ill.
The ‘Selkie’ was launched in a blaze of publicity in May, billed as not only a major boost for Moray’s own council-owned harbours but a resource that will bring funds into the region as it is hired out to other local authorities.
However, members of the Burghead and Hopeman harbour advisory committee were shocked to learn this week that currently the Selkie was tied up for an indefinite period due to a crew member being off sick.
That prompted member Ian McCulloch to wonder just how many days the dredger might spend tied up rather than clearing harbours, telling insideMoray: “I realise that you can never tell when someone will be off sick – but surely they should have plans in place for this rather than having a £2.5million piece of equipment sitting doing nothing?
“Thinking further after the meeting, I wondered what they will do for crew holidays – if each member has four weeks holiday then that means the dredger could be laid up for three months each year while the remaining two are being paid just to maintain the ship, which would not be much in any case it having just been launched.
“We were also told that the Moray Council would be hiring the vessel to other regions – but if during such a hire one of the crew members takes sick, then the vessel cannot sail and would then have to pay harbour authority dues for being berthed somewhere else. The may well end up costing more than Moray gains from the hire in the first place.”
A spokesman for Moray Council confirmed that the issue of crew members being on holiday is not one that is likely to arise as all crew members take these at the same time.
He added: “By the nature of its operation and the environment in which the vessel and her crew work, the Selkie’s schedule requires to be flexible to take account of a whole range of factors, including bad weather, sea conditions, breakdowns, routine maintenance, annual leave and all manner of unforeseen circumstances.
“Contingency measures are in place to cover all of these eventualities, just as they are for crew sickness and absences.”
As at yesterday afternoon the Selkie had remained in Buckie Harbour for six days.