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Orkney collaboration benefits RNLI

SAFETY in the waters around Orkney has been improved after £4,500 was raised by local marine energy companies to fit Stromness, Kirkwall and Longhope lifeboats with advanced tracking systems.

A partnership between six Orkney based companies has provided the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) with funding to install Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) – tracking transponders used to locate and identify vessels operating in the region – on its Stromness and Kirkwall lifeboats, which will be the first in Scotland to be fitted with the technology.

The financial boost came from the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd, Aquatera Ltd, Orcades Marine Management Consultants Ltd, Leask Marine Ltd, Roving Eye Enterprises Ltd, and Scotmarine Ltd.

“With a bustling energy industry operating in the waters around Orkney, the region is busy with vessels coming and going, often operating in the harsh weather conditions we experience here”, says EMEC’s operations manager Graham Bleakley, who suggested the upgrades.

“The AIS provides crews with a live feed of the vessels operating in the area, allowing them to monitor the type and even the name of the ships. The automatic transfer of data will mean the lifeboat and casualty are both constantly updated with key information, resulting in quicker response rates to incidents.

“The marine renewable industry sees safety as the upmost important issue and by working together we have made a contribution which improves the capabilities of those who help to keep our waters safe.”

Alex Marshall, the RNLI’s Communications and Information Manager, said,

“We are delighted with the financial support given by companies in Orkney to fit advanced tracking systems to our lifeboats. The AIS has numerous advantages for us including the ability for the Coastguard to see where we are and make sure we are going in the right direction to a casualty.

“Given the work that is going on in the energy industry and the busy commercial shipping in the Orkney area then the introduction of AIS will improve safety for all concerned on boats.”

Additional funding is being sought to fit AIS to the Longhope lifeboat as well.

To view marine traffic movements in and around Orkney yourself please visit marine traffic.

Pictured above (l-r): Leask Marine managing director Douglas Leask, EMEC operations manager Graham Bleakley, RNLI lifeboat operations manager Stewart Taylor, Scotmarine Ltd CEO/managing director Barry Johnston (also a Stromness lifeboat crew member), RNLI mechanic John Davidson, and Aquatera managing director Gareth DaviesMissing from photo is Keith Bichan of Roving Eye Enterprises. Photo credit: Orkney Photographic.








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