Northlink Explains What Caused Last Month’s Drydock Delays

Northlink Explains What Caused Last Month’s Drydock Delays - Merchant Navy Info - News

Regular flights were canceled for two consecutive nights on February 17  (northbound) and February 18 (southbound). Leaving passengers and cargo customers stranded. Stuart Garrett, managing director of Serco Northlink, told a meeting of the Shetland External Transport Forum on Tuesday afternoon. That dry dock delays were caused by a combination of factors, with weather being the main factor. He said that he was He said the 20-year-old passenger ferry had undergone extensive work. Including repairing damage to the hull caused by another vessel colliding with it. During a comprehensive overhaul of Hjartland’s rudder at Aberdeen Port last year. It was said to be planned. 

He said the ship was scheduled to enter dry dock on  February 5. But was delayed by more than a day due to the weather. “The ship entered the basin on Monday (February 5) but did not enter dry dock until Wednesday due to weather. “After removing the helm, the ship could not be lifted from the dry dock. Due to strong winds restricting the lifting of heavy loads and the helm being delayed in entering the engine room. After the overhaul, Further weather-related delays occurred as the four-tonne rudder had to be returned to its original position. Mr Garrett added that both port and starboard rudders will be installed. Until then, you can’t test the rudder.

The Test

When they did the test, the starboard rudder worked perfectly. But the port rudder was drooping a little bit, so they dropped it again and overwrote it a little. That work had to be completed and then rebuilt. Mr Garrett acknowledged the inconvenience caused to passengers but said that everyone was being taken care of, including paying for hotels and alternative transport. He said he gave it to me. Similar work is planned for  Hjaltland’s sister ship, Hrossey, which is expected to enter dry dock at Rosyth next week.

Mr. Garrett described this winter’s stormy weather as “brutal,” with emergency services between Shetland and mainland Scotland experiencing eight weather-related disruptions in January alone, double the number in January last year, acknowledged that it had been achieved.

Mr.Garrett Northlink diplomatically responded to a question from Westside City Councilwoman Liz Peterson about whether there are more cancellations than in the past, saying that the predictive tools and data available now are more sophisticated and better than in the past. He said it led to better decision-making. This often results in changes to departure times or partial cancellations, with ferries either skipping the Orkney call or operating only between Aberdeen and Kirkwall.

The Incident

“And it certainly doesn’t happen that the ship is at sea 24 hours a day,” he said, referring to the crossing before Serco took over the contract in 2012. Additionally, there were no cases of trailers overturning. Meanwhile, travel demand continues to grow, with both passenger and cargo volumes increasing. Garrett told the conference that the ferry service carried a record  400,000 passengers across its network in 2023.

In January 2024, he sold 4,500 cabins, which is far higher than his January 2019 all-time high of 3,022. When asked if this was because Northlink stopped offering shared cabins in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Garrett said this was the case. This is not the case with data received by the company. He added that “shared cabins are not coming back,” but some passengers are organizing their own shared cabins in Facebook groups. 

VisitScotland’s Steve Matheson Northlink said the increase in demand for ferry services was “quite strong” but acknowledged his organization was playing a role in attracting more people to Shetland. However, he noted that the newly planned Freighter Plus cargo ships could take five years to enter service and could increase passenger capacity. At Tuesday’s meeting, it was also announced that reservations for future ferries may be available earlier than recently. Transport Scotland’s Chris Willock said the process had been delayed in recent years due to the high  CPI (consumer price index), but once this reached a more manageable level, the process should run more smoothly.

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