Skip to main content

Custom-made boat supports farmer’s move to bigger pens

The Geraldine Mary leaving Macduff Shipyards for her sea trials. Photo: Inverlussa Marine Services.
The Geraldine Mary leaving Macduff Shipyards for her sea trials. Photo: Inverlussa Marine Services.

Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) has taken delivery of a new semi-hybrid power workboat specially designed to service larger pens and nets at its salmon farms around Scotland’s west coast.

The Geraldine Mary, on long-term contract from Mull-based Inverlussa Marine Services, was designed and built in Scotland by Macduff Shipyards and will have a full-time crew of two with accommodation for two more if needed.

Equipped with a battery pack, the vessel will be able to use its harbour generators more efficiently, shutting them down overnight or between operations during the day to save on fuel and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as reducing noise.

The 21-metre boat has a heavy duty 72-tonne metre crane to better handle the company’s new 120-metre and 160-metre marine pens.

Innes Weir:  New infrastructure demands more of SSF's service vessels.
Innes Weir: New infrastructure demands more of SSF's service vessels.

Upsizing

Innes Weir, SSF’s regional production manager for mainland, said the company’s move to fewer but bigger nets and pens was part of an ongoing drive to further enhance fish health and welfare.

“Increasing the size of pens allows for greater separation between fish stocks and predators, while reducing the number of pens enables even more focused husbandry and fish health monitoring,” Weir explained in a press release.

“However, the new infrastructure also demands more of our farm teams – requiring different ways of working – and of our service vessels.”

The Geraldine Mary is a sister ship to the Macduff-designed Helen Rice, which SSF has operated under contract from Inverlussa for the past two years. SSF said the semi-hybrid vessel’s arrival marks another step towards greater sustainability, complementing the salmon farmer’s first fully hybrid workboat, the Laurence Knight, also commissioned by Inverlussa.

Ben Wilson:
Ben Wilson: "The semi-hybrid system is a big improvement on having generators running overnight."

Cost-effective change

Inverlussa managing director Ben Wilson said the decision to introduce a semi-hybrid power system aboard the Geraldine Mary was a cost-effective, time-efficient amendment of an existing design compared with going fully hybrid with a complete redesign.

“It’s a vessel design we’ve had a lot of good experience with, and the semi-hybrid system is a big improvement on having generators running overnight,” said Wilson.

“With a much larger forward crane and bigger deck winch than the Helen Rice, plus an extra cabin in the accommodation, it’s also a very versatile workboat.”

‘Our speciality’

Macduff Shipyards managing director John Watt said: “We were delighted to have been chosen for the Geraldine Mary – building innovative one-off vessels in short lead times is our speciality.

“It’s good to see a company like Inverlussa, who are at the forefront of their field, take the lead in sustainable innovation with ideas, practices and products that will contribute to the wider environment, as well as the economic viability of the company.”

Mooring inspections

SSF’s Weir said it is not just the new boat, but the crew and the administrative support from Inverlussa that help the smooth operation of the farm estate.

“One of the critical aspects of any marine farm is ensuring your moorings and containment infrastructure is secure, and this vessel’s main task will be inspections, as well as setting up and stripping down farms,” said Weir.

“We have a lot of farms and we need to inspect them all every year, sometimes twice a year, and it’s something we take very seriously, working closely and communicating often with Inverlussa on the logistics and operational aspects of these vessels.”