Saturday 4th April 2015

Strathdon and Barge sail

Strathdon & Barge UR96 outbound Apr 4th 2015 Thom Flaxman photo
Strathdon at sea with her large tow as the sun sets.

Tug STRATHDON has been piloted in to APPLEDORE to collect the 90 metre barge UR 96 loaded with three large aircraft carrier sections, including part of the vessels foredeck and upper bow section.

The barge which was loaded inside the large shipyard covered yard, had been previously floated out to the gutway channel approach to the drydock, and TDC relief pilot Paul Gyurgyak piloted the barge out from the gut using tugs Willanne and Will challenge to a position off the main New Quay yard where there was sufficient water for the large tug STRATHDON to connect and take over the tow, (Pilot Roger Hoad) keeping WillChallenge connected at the barge stern.

The weather conditions were perfect, with a light northerly breeze and a slight sea and low swell. All vessels worked well together, including the Lundy Puffin and two small ribs and the connection was made before high water with the seagoing tug proceeding to sea in a timely manner aas high water approached.

Strathdon's Captain and crew were very pleasant, skilled in their task, and performed carefully and safely throughout.

The tug has 7 crew, was built in 2007 in Japan where she operated for a short time, has two azimuthing propellors which must not contact the river bed, with a draught of 3.6 metres. so timing for the tow on the tide was critical, with the high pressure cutting the maximum height of tide.

The tug progressivly lengthened the tow after the outer Pulley buoy, and her skipper reports that she will eventually have some 600 metres of towing wire out (max about 700 metres), she will go North about around the north of Scotland, through the fierce currents of the Pentland Firth and down the east coast to ROSYTH. She is based in INVERGORDAN and undertakes local towage with a smaller crew as well as long coastal tows. The crew work four weeks on and four weeks off.

It will take about a week to reach her destination depending on the weather - which is forecast to be good for the first few days at least.

Pilot boat crew Thom Flaxman and Keith Stevens.