Scapa Pathfinder : Orkney Names its New Pilot Vessel

News From Orkney Islands Council

Orkney’s new pilot vessel is to be called ‘Scapa Pathfinder’.

The name was chosen following a public vote and was the name given to a former pilot launch operating in local waters.

The new pilot launch – currently under construction in Spain – is expected to arrive in Orkney at the end of the summer.

Votes were cast online and by post to determine the name with voters choosing from a shortlist drawn up by OIC Marine Services which featured prominent figures from the county’s history, plus ‘Scapa Pathfinder’.

The other names were:

  • 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.

Over 600 votes were cast, with ‘Scapa Pathfinder’ taking 243 of these.

A winner has been drawn from the votes for the most popular name. Abbie Craigie from Kirkwall has been 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.

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

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.

Councillor Graham Sinclair is chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee. He said:

“Pilot launches play a vital role at the heart of harbours operations, enabling 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 – meaning pilot launches need to be highly capable vessels built to high specifications of sea keeping and reliability.

“With harbour business thriving the new pilot vessel will help deliver a 24-hour, year-round pilotage service in the very challenging waters around Orkney, greatly benefiting the economy of the islands.”


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