MORAY COUNCIL HAS confirmed that their much-lauded £2.4million dredger MV Selkie was finally back at sea – four months after insideMoray revealed it was laying idle at its Buckie harbour berth.
Just three months after her launch, the Selkie had to remain in port when one of her three crew members became ill.
A legal requirement meant the ship could not sail unless it had three crewmen – at the time a spokesman for Moray Council insisted that “contingency measures are in place to cover all eventualities” – including crew sickness and absences.
However, it has now emerged that the dredger remained in harbour for several months as the crew member had resigned his post – and it took that long to find a replacement, with the vessel only this month resuming regular duties.
Buckie councillor Gordon McDonald is calling for a report from council officials over the issue after a Freedom of Information request confirmed that the Selkie had remained tied-up throughout September and October due to “the unforeseen resignation of a crew member”.
Councillor McDonald said there has been a great deal of frustration with the issue generating more questions from the public than any other. He said: “We need to start getting the dredger into the smaller harbours where it is going to be working, so people can see it and get rid of the perception that it has been doing nothing.”
One council-owned Harbour where the Selkie is yet to make its mark is Hopeman, where the local boat owners association chairman said: “We are hoping to see it more now – it would be good to see local harbours being done first, although I understand there is a balance to be struck with commercial contracts to ensure it is earning money.”
However, Councillor McDonald insisted that the priority had to be Moray’s own harbours before any commercial considerations: “The priority for the dredger should be our own harbours – the taxpayers here have paid for it so they should expect a return first over commercial customers.”
The FOI request revealed that since her launch in April the Selkie had removed just 3000tonnes of silt from Buckie and 7000tonnes of sand from Burghead harbours. The vessel was back at work this week dredging Findochty Harbour.