Anglian Sovereign: Boats on their way back to their home harbours. Pic: © STV
Two emergency coastguard tugs which were due to be scrapped are being brought back into service under a new three-month contract.
The coastguard tugs, based in the Western Isles and Shetland, were due to be withdrawn from service at midnight on Friday.
The vessels are now travelling back to their home harbours after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency awarded a three-month interim contract the day they were due to be withdrawn.
The Anglian Sovereign is expected to reach Shetland on Saturday morning while the Anglian Monarch should be in Stornoway by Sunday night, it is understood.
Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore said: “This welcome news is the result of a great deal of hard work by UK ministers, the Scotland Office and MCA, and the new interim contract has been put in place as quickly as possible.
“This will provide both continuity and cover for the next three months. Ministers are working hard to try and broker a deal for 2012 and beyond. I am confident we can work towards a long-term solution for the ETVs.”
The current contract to lease two ships for use by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was not due to be renewed.
The initial move to scrap the tugs sparked outrage, with the Scottish Government, MPs and industry leaders calling for a reversal of the decision.
It was argued that the tug contract was not good value for money, but a UK Parliamentary committee had recently concluded that the savings made from scrapping the service would be wiped out by a single large-scale incident such as an oil spill.
The tugs were introduced in the wake of the Braer accident in 1993 when an oil tanker ran aground off Shetland spilling 85,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea.
The Anglian Prince tugboat was sent to Skye from Stornoway to pull the attack submarine HMS Astute free from a shingle bank after ran aground in October last year.
Originally posted here:
Interim contract awarded to emergency coastguard tugboats