Orkney Voting Opens to Name New Pilot Boat

News from Orkney Islands Council

A public vote opens this week to select the name for Orkney’s new pilot launch – currently under construction in Spain.

The most recent of the Harbour Authority’s other pilot launches, the John Rae, was named after a successful public poll and the plan is to repeat the exercise in naming the new vessel, which arrives in Orkney in late August this year.

Votes can be cast from Wednesday 1 May to determine the name that will grace the vessel’s hull.

Online Voting

The online poll is available here https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/pilotpoll/

A shortlist has been drawn up by OIC Marine Services which features prominent figures from the county’s history, plus the name of a previous pilot launch:

  • William Baikie – Kirkwall-born Royal Navy ship’s surgeon, explorer and naturalist.
  • Kali Kolsson – the name St Rognvald, Earl of Orkney and Shetland, was known by in his native Norway.
  • Murdoch Mackenzie – Orkney-born map maker whose pioneering work included the first accurate chart of the waters around North Ronaldsay.
  • Thomas Webster – distinguished geologist from Orkney best known for his research into rock formations on England’s south coast.
  • Scapa Pathfinder – the name given to a former pilot launch operating in local waters.

The poll closes on Tuesday 21 May. A winner will be drawn from the votes for the most popular name, invited to take part in the naming ceremony and offered the opportunity of a family trip at a later date aboard the new pilot launch.

Postal Voting

As well as the online poll, you can send your preferred name from the shortlist by post to Pilot Vessel Poll, Harbour Authority Building, Old Scapa Rd, Scapa, Kirkwall KW15 1SD. If you submit a postal vote, please include your name and phone number.

Orkney pilot boat under construction in Spain

The design and build contract for the new 21-metre pilot vessel was secured after a competitive tendering exercise by Astilleros Armon S.A, which has its main base in Northern Spain.

The vessel will join the two pilot launches currently operated by Marine Services. The naming ceremony is planned for September 2019.

Graham Sinclair, Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, said:

“Like the celebrated explorer John Rae, some fitting names from Orkney’s past feature on the shortlist for the new vessel and I would encourage folk to take part in the poll.

“With harbour business thriving in Orkney, this is an opportune time to replace an ageing pilot launch with a more modern, capable, and reliable vessel. Like her predecessors, she will give us the capability to deliver a 24-hour, year-round pilotage service in the very challenging waters around Orkney. This greatly benefits the economy of our islands.

“I look forward to the outcome of the vote and hope that as many folk as possible take this opportunity to choose the name for a vessel that will become a familiar sight in local waters.”

Brian Archibald, Harbour Master and Head of Marine Services, Engineering and Transportation, said:

“We look forward to the delivery and naming ceremony for our new pilot launch.

“Orkney continues to benefit from a significant upturn in harbour related activity, making it essential that we invest in the equipment and vessels necessary to deliver a safe and efficient service.

“Our pilot launches play a vital role at the heart of our harbours operations. They enable marine pilots to embark and disembark from vessels heading to and from berths and anchorages within the Orkney Harbours area. These operations take place day and night in all weathers – the pilot launches need to be highly capable vessels built to high specifications of sea keeping and reliability.”

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