This has to be inspirational entrepreneurshiip at its best – private sector risk and an imaginative, intelligent reading of opportunity.
A new £2million vessel which aims to tap into Scotland’s growing renewable energy market was launched on Saturday, 19th May.
The Helen Burnie, built to a unique design at Macduff Shipyards in Moray, will create up to 12 new jobs once she is working to capacity.
The workboat is equipped with the latest technology to allow it to tackle specialist offshore windfarm and tidal survey work, as well as the more traditional workboat contracts.
At a time when many companies are laying people off, the venture represents a huge leap of faith in Scotland’s renewable energy market by Inverlussa Marine Services, a small family business based on the isle of Mull.
The company, which has two other vessels, has already carried out some tidal exploratory work off the islands of Skye and Islay.
And Ben Wilson, Inverlussa’s Operations Manager, speaking at the launch of the Helen Burnie in Oban, said he believes renewable energy opportunities have a lot to offer far-flung communities.
He said: “We think it’s a good time to invest in the renewables sector and the boat has been built completely with renewables in mind, because we do feel it is a sector with vast potential.
‘This is a state-of-the-art vessel, a total one-off design. It’s got the latest winch system and the latest crane.
‘It is a general purpose coastal supply vessel, available to assist with all the traditional marine service tasks which are the backbone of our business such as fishfarm feed deliveries and dive support work, but it is also kitted out to work on the construction stage of tidal and offshore wind farm sites.’
The company, evolved from a one man operation started by Mr Wilson’s father, Douglas, the company’s Managing Director, over 20 years ago, has employed 15 people in recent years.
As the Helen Burnie sailed off on her first delivery contract to the Shetland Isles, Mr Wilson said: ‘The new boat has already created six new jobs, all local jobs, but there will be up to twelve jobs created on the island, depending on the contracts we secure’.
The boat will be available for all logistical marine services, including cargo transport, general dive support, fuel and fresh water transfer, cable laying, container transport, plough dredging, anchor handling and towing work.
But Mr Wilson, whose company has received the backing of the Clydesdale Bank for the project, said: ‘Due to her versatility and high manoeuvrability we expect that Helen Burnie will be in great demand for a variety of renewable energy projects – from offshore wind farm work to tidal energy surveys.
‘There is a lot of money going into these windfarms and I think it is a great opportunity for the West Coast to be involved in an industry which is attracting investment.’
Argyll SNP MSP Michael Russell said: ‘It is great to see such a significant investment being made by a local company and it shows the huge potential of renewables in this area. I wish them every success with this exciting step forward.’