The UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has awarded a five-year contract for operation of the Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) covering the north and west coast of Scotland.

Following an “open and fair competition which was highly contested” the contract was won by Napoli-based Marnavi Spa and sees continuation of the current ETV provision for its 70m, 2010-built, 120tbp anchor-handling tug supply vessel Ievoli Black covering an area including in and around the Minches, Pentland Firth, and Fair Isle Channel, areas described by the MCA as having “a critical lack of commercial towage solutions available to intervene in the event of a maritime emergency”.

Ievoli Black

During the open procurement process, bids were evaluated based on vessel type and dimensions; age; bollard pull; speed; crew complement and experience; emissions; training and exercises; efficiency and the chargeable day rate. The contract will run until 2028.

Of interest is that Ievoli Black will be flagged to the UK and for the first time be operated by an all-UK crew. The vessel will also be repainted in the red and white livery of His Majesty’s Coastguard SAR helicopters and aircraft fleet (similar to the earlier quartet of UK ETVs). Other changes include upgrading from paper charts to the Electronic Chart Display and Information System, addition of a fast rescue craft and a new dedicated workboat. The vessel will also be used to support training of HM Coastguard officers.

Between 1993 and 2011 the MCA operated up to four strategically located ETVs at Falmouth covering the South West Approaches, Dover covering the Dover Strait, Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides and Lerwick in Shetland, with a fifth vessel equipped to provide cover during maintenance periods. The service was later reduced with just a single tug covering the north and west Scottish coastline following strong local representation.

“The safety of seafarers and our waters remains our upmost priority,” said Maritime Minister Baroness Charlotte Vere of Norbiton. “That’s why government support for towing vessels like the Ievoli Black is so important to Scotland’s coastal communities, ready to step up, in the case of an emergency.

“The UK Flag is one of the most prestigious in the world, known for upholding the highest standards of seafarers’ safety - it will be great to see the Ievoli Black in white and red.”