Cast your vote in pilot vessel poll

Cast your vote in pilot vessel poll
30 April 2019

A public vote opens this week to select the name for Orkney’s new pilot launch - currently under construction in Spain.

The most recent of the Harbour Authority’s other pilot launches, the John Rae, was named after a successful public poll and the plan is to repeat the exercise in naming the new vessel, which arrives in Orkney in late August this year.

Votes can be cast from Wednesday 1 May to determine the name that will grace the vessel’s hull.

A shortlist has been drawn up by OIC Marine Services which features prominent figures from the county’s history, plus the name of a previous pilot launch:

  • William Baikie – Kirkwall-born Royal Navy ship’s surgeon, explorer and naturalist.
  • Kali Kolsson – the name St Rognvald, Earl of Orkney and Shetland, was known by in his native Norway.
  • Murdoch Mackenzie – Orkney-born map maker whose pioneering work included the first accurate chart of the waters around North Ronaldsay.
  • Thomas Webster – distinguished geologist from Orkney best known for his research into rock formations on England’s south coast.
  • Scapa Pathfinder - the name given to a former pilot launch operating in local waters.

The poll closes on Tuesday 21 May. A winner will be drawn from the votes for the most popular name, invited to take part in the naming ceremony and offered the opportunity of a family trip at a later date aboard the new pilot launch.

As well as the online poll, you can send your preferred name from the shortlist by post to Pilot Vessel Poll, Harbour Authority Building, Old Scapa Rd, Scapa, Kirkwall KW15 1SD. If you submit a postal vote, please include your name and phone number.

The design and build contract for the new 21-metre pilot vessel was secured after a competitive tendering exercise by Astilleros Armon S.A, which has its main base in Northern Spain.

The vessel will join the two pilot launches currently operated by Marine Services. The naming ceremony is planned for September 2019.

Graham Sinclair, Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Like the celebrated explorer John Rae, some fitting names from Orkney’s past feature on the shortlist for the new vessel and I would encourage folk to take part in the poll.

“With harbour business thriving in Orkney, this is an opportune time to replace an ageing pilot launch with a more modern, capable, and reliable vessel. Like her predecessors, she will give us the capability to deliver a 24-hour, year-round pilotage service in the very challenging waters around Orkney. This greatly benefits the economy of our islands.

“I look forward to the outcome of the vote and hope that as many folk as possible take this opportunity to choose the name for a vessel that will become a familiar sight in local waters.”

Brian Archibald, Harbour Master and Head of Marine Services, Engineering and Transportation, said: “We look forward to the delivery and naming ceremony for our new pilot launch.

“Orkney continues to benefit from a significant upturn in harbour related activity, making it essential that we invest in the equipment and vessels necessary to deliver a safe and efficient service.

“Our pilot launches play a vital role at the heart of our harbours operations. They enable marine pilots to embark and disembark from vessels heading to and from berths and anchorages within the Orkney Harbours area. These operations take place day and night in all weathers - the pilot launches need to be highly capable vessels built to high specifications of sea keeping and reliability.”

More details about the names on the shortlist:

William Baikie

Born in Kirkwall 21 August 1824, William Baikie was the son of a Royal Navy Captain who had commanded Flagships during the Napoleonic wars. William trained as a doctor before himself joining the Royal navy as a ship’s surgeon. He became an explorer and naturalist and opened up navigation in Nigeria on the rivers Niger and Benue. At one point he wrecked on rapids and not rescued from Africa for a year. He eventually established and administered a major township for trading on the Niger and developed good relationships with the local population due in part to his anti-slavery stance.

Kali Kolsson

St Rognvald grew up in Norway, where he was known as Kali Kolsson. When appointed Earl of Orkney and Shetland in 1129, Kali was given the name Rognvald. He was canonised by the Pope in 1192 as St Rognvald.

Murdo Mackenzie

Born in Orkney 1712, Murdoch Mackenzie was a hydrographer and cartographer and the first map maker to accurately chart the coastline around North Ronaldsay - his work leading to the construction of the lighthouse at Dennis Head. The techniques and equipment he developed led to his employment by the Royal Navy in the production of charts for the North Coast of Ireland and West Coast of Scotland. His charts are still in use today and the symbols he created are still some of the chart symbols in use worldwide.

Thomas Webster

Born in Orkney 1772, Thomas Webster was a leading geologist who was appointed house secretary and curator to the Geological Society of London. He was appointed as Professor of Geology at University College, London in 1841 and became distinguished for his research into rock formations on the south coast of England, most notably on the Isle of Wight and Portland where much of the stone for the construction of London was quarried.

Scapa Pathfinder

A name from the past previously used for one of Orkney’s pilot launches.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535


Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS