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Orcadia Work-boat Visits Gills Harbour

24th May 2013

Photograph of Orcadia Work-boat Visits Gills Harbour

The powerful modern 25 metre 'multi-cat' vessel 'Orcadia' berthed at Gills Harbour on Friday morning 17th May 2013; her first call there this year.

She is owned and operated by Scotmarine Ltd, of Stromness, Orkney, one of a group of 'marine renewables' companies in the islands founded and headed by entrepreneur Barry Johnston.

The vessel, which was bought new at a cost of c. 3.5 million from Damen shipyards in Holland, has been involved a a wide variety of tasks in this field, including heavy towage, supply services and anchor handling, in most weather condition since her 2011 arrival in the Far North.She was one of two vessels involved in 'marine renewables' action in the Eastern Firth on Friday 17th May.

She was performing a 'commercial in confidence' task off Stroma for most of the day and left the Caithness port for Kirkwall in the early evening.

Another vessel, the 'Bibby Tethra' from Liverpool, was involved in survey work on the Eastern Firth's seabed just three miles North of Stroma's Lighthouse Point.

She was operating for the Scottish & Southern Energy plc joint venture with 'polo-mint' device developers Open Hydro Ltd of Dublin, Ireland at the Crown Estate seabed lease off Cantick Head.

She has been based at Lyness, the former World Wars RN base on Hoy, while engaged on seabed survey work this week. Lyness has recently been upgraded as a renewables base by Orkney Harbours, an arm of Orkney Islands council, as part of its 'three ports' strategy for wave and tidal works.

Its base there is leased to operators FenderCare Ltd, part of the James Fisher Shipping Group of Barrow-in-Furness, and it is managed by South Ronaldsay man Stanley 'Stan' Groundwater, who is well known at Gills Harbour.

The private Bibby family firm do much work now for 'renewables' utilities, particularly in offshore wind, as either vessel owners and/or managers. In earlier times, the Bibby Line ran a fleet of large cargo/passenger ships maintaining British Empire links with the Indian sub-continent.

Another of Orcadia owner Mr Johnston's companies, ScotRenewables Tidal Power Ltd, is developing a unique floating tide-stream marine-turbine electricity generator.

Last year SPRT became the first company using floating tidal technology to feed into the electricity 'grid' with its 250kW device under a year-long 'testing regime' at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) off Eday, Orkney.

The company is reported to have secured substantial investments from French oil & gas giant Total and from the renewables subsidiary of Norway's Fred Olsen to allow it to proceed to a 'presently under design' turbine rated at 2 MW, which it hopes to form the basis of a 'commercial demonstrator array' for Orkney waters in the future.

Its device consists of a cylindrical metal tube to which twin horizontal-axis rotors are attached using hydraulically-retractable rotor legs.

The company claims that the system can extract more kinetic energy from the tide-streams than bottom-mounted turbines, that 'storm waves will pass smoothly over the system' due to its streamlined shape, while it can be handled using relatively low-cost smaller vessels such as Orcadia, which is fitted with a 'through deck' moonpool.


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