Orkney Islands Council is advertising on the Public Contracts Scotland website for a new tug.
Interested shipyards are asked to put forward a price proposal for a second vessel as well, giving the Council the option to consider commissioning two new tugs.
Three tugs are currently based in Orkney, the Harald, Einar and Erland, which were built between 1989 and 1992.
Brian Archibald, the Council’s Harbour Master and Head of Marine Services, Engineering and Transportation said:
“Our plan is for a phased replacement programme. The Council has agreed to purchase a new tug, which, with greater power and manoeuvrability, will have the operational flexibility to further improve the safety and efficiency of towage tasks in local waters and further afield.
“It will be funded from accumulated surpluses, which have been boosted recently by strong levels of harbours activity in Orkney.
“We are also looking for expressions of interest in providing a second vessel, so the Council can consider this option as well.”
The Orkney tugs provide a 24-hour, year round towage service, and are involved in a broad range of operations.
In addition to considerable tanker traffic linked to the Flotta oil terminal, Scapa Flow regularly hosts ship to ship transfer operations of crude oil, gas and other products, and has proved to be an ideal location for the long term anchorage of accommodation rigs.
Orkney is also the most popular cruise ship destination in the UK and received a record number of visits this year.
It is hoped a tender for the new tug will be awarded in February 2018 and that the vessel will be delivered just over a year after contract placement.