Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Commercial and Private Vessels Benefit from New Harbour Navigational Safety Communications

One Year On Scottish Venue Has Single Point of Contact
Shipping News Feature
UK – With many coastal harbours subject to periodic fluctuations in traffic levels the dangers to vessels, particularly in those ports with an influx of casual holiday sailors, cannot afford to be underestimated. Oban, lying on the west coast of Scotland north-west of Glasgow is a case in point, host as it is to regular ferry and commercial services with many vessels plying their trade to the off lying islands.

One year ago a partnership was formed to improve navigational safety in the harbour at Oban and since April there has been a Single Point of Contact available by telephone and VHF radio from 08:00 to 01:00 for all navigation and related queries and to provide general advice to mariners. This has been achieved through co-operation between Argyll and Bute Council’s harbour staff at the council owned North Pier and CalMac Ferries pier and terminal staff operating at the Railway and South Piers.

There is a Code of Practice for Oban Bay and Approaches and now in addition, the Oban Harbour website has been developed to support harbour operations, provide advice and information to both harbour users and the general public. Importantly, it provides a means to contact the Harbour Master by email at

A member of the Northern Lighthouse Board, Fisher Associate’s Mike Brew, was approached by the consultants to the Oban Trust Port project and finished up the one responsible for the project implementation,and he commented that the year’s good progress was helped by the stakeholders and willing staff involved whilst Capt Phil Day, Director of Marine Operations for the Northern Lighthouse Board, said:

“The Northern Lighthouse Board is pleased to be involved in this initiative alongside the other berth operators, and most importantly working with the Oban community to improve safety. Oban harbour and approaches are becoming a busier and more crowded place particularly in Spring and Summer. We are committed to supporting this development whilst ensuring the Safety of the Mariner remains assured.”

All involved agreed that the close cooperation had made Oban a safer environment for mariners with Lorna Spencer, Director of Harbours, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd,  owner of the Railway and South Piers in Oban which are operated on their behalf by CalMac Ferries, saying on-going improvements in the harbour environment were anticipated, whilst Argyll and Bute Council Policy Lead for Transportation, Councillor Alistair MacDougall said:

“The safe and effective operation of Oban Harbour is essential to residents and businesses in and around Oban. The improvement in marine safety in Oban Bay that has been achieved to date through partnership working between council and CalMac staff is very welcome and we are pleased to be a partner in this continuing project.’’

CalMac Ferries operates several services from Oban Harbour and obviously, as with any other such facilities, ferry activities represent one of the biggest threats, both to the harbour and its piers as well as other craft and CalMac’s Head of Harbours Alasdair Henderson observed:

“The growth in commercial and leisure traffic within Oban Harbour is welcomed. It is important that everyone can operate safely in what is now a very busy harbour in summer. The Single Point of Contact created by improved working between CalMac and Council staff is a great step forward.”

Photo: Oban Harbour as it once was.