A NEW Shetland vessel service company, set up as a one-stop-shop for the aquaculture industry, has ordered its first workboat.
Ocean Farm Services (OFS) is a joint venture between two well established local companies, Whalsay based Aurora Marine and Scalloway based North Isles Marine.
The firms will combine forces to provide a stronger, broader vessel service to Scotland’s growing salmon farming sector.
The new boat, Apollo, commissioned from Stamas Yard Services (SYS) and designed by Marin, will join the Aurora Quest of the same design, carrying out mainly net cleaning for farming companies.
The boat’s hull will be made in Poland while the outfitting will take place at SYS in Karmsund, just outside Haugesund, Norway. Delivery is scheduled for early summer, 2019.
With a length of 14.96m breadth of 7m, and draught of 3.15m, the vessel will have a crew of three.
Håkon Rugland, CEO of Stamas, said: ‘We are very pleased with the signing of this first build for us as a company. The collaboration between Ocean Farm Services, Marin Design and ourselves has been very productive and we look forward to several joint projects going forward.’
Colin Leask of Aurora Marine and a director of the new OFS, said: ‘This marks a milestone and a start of an expansive period for us as a company.
‘The new set-up will result in an increased service level and greater reach. More interesting projects are in the pipeline and we are very pleased to sign this first vessel with Stamas Yard Services.’
With salmon producers in Norway creating innovative concepts for large, offshore farms to cope with the world’s growing demand for salmon, it won’t be long before Scotland’s farms follow suit, said Leask.
‘Therefore, we feel for us to be in a position to cover and assist this growth going offshore, and with inshore cages and nets becoming larger all the time, larger vessels and more innovative technologies will inevitably be required.
‘By combining our two existing companies and experience, we’ll be in a much stronger position to move forward, along with the industry, and be able to compete against the large Norwegian service companies.’
He said the goal was for OFS to operate as a one-stop-shop for all vessel services required by salmon farms in Scotland.
‘OFS will be fully equipped with vessels, equipment and qualified, experienced local crews, capable of covering all vessel services required, from setting up a new site, all the way through to harvest.’
Services will include ROV seabed surveys for SEPA, installing site grids, towing and installing feed barges and cages, delivering smolts, carrying out all general site maintenance throughout the growing cycle, ROV net washing, and automatic cage cleaning.
All aspects of fish handling will be covered, including grading, treating and harvest, and preparing the farm to start all over again for the next generation of smolts.
Both Aurora Marine and North Isles Marine will continue as usual for the immediate future, fulfilling existing contracts, but the aim is for the companies to merge fully into OFS. All new contracts awarded and new vessels built will subsequently go straight into OFS.
‘OFS will initially recruit four new local employees to crew the newly ordered workboat Apollo, which will carry out ROV net washing and general site services around the local salmon farms,’ said Leask.
‘It’s an exciting time for us as our two companies merge. In turn, we’ll look to provide more local employment as we provide more vessels and services in the years ahead.’
Picture: How the new boat will look