Local News

“All I want is the truth and evidence”, The Nordic Sea Saga

The Nordic Sea in Stromness in January 2022

Orkney Islands Councillor John Ross Scott who represents Kirkwall East has welcomed the inquiry into the purchase and ongoing expenses incurred by The Nordic Sea.

Internal auditors will now start the process and a report will be brought to the OIC’s Monitoring and Audit Committee.

Councillor Scott said:

“All I want is the truth and evidence that all is well.

“Governance is the most important task Councillors have. We had Monitoring and Audit investigations into the gravestones issue and ‘Quarry gate’.

“I believe the purchase of the Nordic Sea has, rightly or wrongly, engendered enough bad publicity for the council to warrant an in-depth review of what happened and to clear the air and ensure we learn from any mistakes that may have been made.”

The Orkney News has published several articles about the fiasco surrounding the purchase of the Nordic Sea. The Scottish Government gave Orkney Islands Council £750,000 towards the purchase. OIC contributed  €364,811. Last year a Freedom of Information Request by The Orkney News to discover how much the failed ferry had cost so far got the following result:

Q. As of today (28th of March 2021) what are the additional costs accrued by The Nordic Sea?

Not known.  We await the invoices from the MCA and the shipyard for work required to meet regulatory standards.

The Nordic Sea arrived in Orkney in April 2020. It was intended to replace The Golden Mariana and serve the route from Westray to Papa Westray.

Commenting at the time Councillor Andrew Drever, from the Board of Orkney Ferries, said:

“I would like to recognise the support we’ve received from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, who have agreed to fund 50% of the project costs.

“These, once all works and costs are complete, will be in the region of £1.5 million and without their funding support, this first small step in the replacement of our ferry fleet would not have been possible.”

By December 2021 Jim Buck, Head of Marine Services, Transportation and Harbour Master, was confident that the Nordic Sea was ‘well worth the wait’

Jim Buck then went on to explain why it had taken 18 months to go into service on the route it was originally purchased for. He said:

“It would appear to have taken a long time but actually in respect of the certification process when taking a vessel from one country to another it has actually been remarkably quick. She is the first vessel of her type to go through that process and with that comes inevitable hurdles that need to be overcome. The Nordic Sea had a series of modifications made to bring her up to the full UK Classification and Certification standard.

“She was built to a different specification so had to go through the required checks and balances to ensure we met the current specifications for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s current passenger vessel system.”

A month later in January 2022, having incurred damage, other issues were found when she went in for repair. Spare parts had to come from Norway. It was taken out of service and The Golden Mariana was again called upon to fill in.

The ferry fiasco is now well into its second year.

Councillor Scott added:

“The public backlash, including private mumblings from those closely involved, makes it important that we fully investigate what has happened. I am not saying that anyone was wrong or that the purchase was in any way underhand. I just want the truth in black and white as to what happened so we can stop all the speculation. If mistakes were made then we need to learn from them.”

The Nordic Sea in April 2022, in Stromness