Emergency Towing Vessel Contract awarded to Marnavi Spa

Published: 05/06/2023

The UK Government’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has awarded a five-year contract for its Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) to Marnavi Spa, with the ship now operating under the UK flag.

The Ievoli Black is a 70-metre towing vessel of some 2283 gross tonnes with a bollard pull of around 140 tonnes. It currently operates as the MCA’s ETV, and following an open and fair competition which was highly contested, a new contract was awarded to run until 2028.

Under the new contract, there is a requirement for the vessel to be flagged to the UK and for the first time it will be operated by an all-UK crew.

Following its flag move, the vessel will also be resprayed to match the red and white livery of His Majesty’s Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopters and aircraft fleet. It will also be used to support training of HM Coastguard officers.

Fully funded by the UK Government and supported by Ministers, the renewed provision of service will provide support in maritime safety and protect areas of significant environmental interest.

The current ETV operates to the north and west of Scotland, in and around the Minches, Pentland Firth and Fair Isle Channel where there is a critical lack of commercial towage solutions available to intervene in the event of a maritime emergency.

The service, which has been in place for more than 20 years, provides His Majesty’s Coastguard with a single large ocean-going towing vessel which can respond when there is a maritime emergency, towing ships in distress out of danger.

By doing so, the ETV reduces the possibility of a ship casualty becoming a hazard to safe navigation or running aground and causing subsequent cargo or oil pollution and reducing the risk of loss of life.

It will also be able to support other duties including basic salvage support, firefighting, search and rescue incident support, and counter pollution response support.

During the open procurement, bids were evaluated based on vessel type and dimensions, age, bollard pull, speed, crew complement and experience, emissions, training and exercises, efficiency and the chargeable day rate.

Reflecting advances in maritime technology, the vessel will be upgraded from using paper charts to the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), and will be fitted with a Fast Rescue Craft and a new dedicated workboat.

Maritime Minister Baroness Charlotte Vere Of Norbiton said:

“The safety of seafarers and our waters remains our upmost priority. That’s why government support for towing vessels like the Ievoli Black is so important to Scotland’s coastal communities, ready to step up, in the case of an emergency.

“The UK Flag is one of the most prestigious in the world, known for upholding the highest standards of seafarers’ safety - it will be great to see the Ievoli Black in white and red.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said:

"This emergency towing vessel provided by the UK Government will cover some of the most remote parts of Scotland, ensuring maritime safety and helping to minimise risks of environmental pollution.

"This vital service - in place for more than 20 years - gets ships out of danger and out of the path of other vessels to minimise disruption and protect lives at sea."

Director of the MCA’s Programme Delivery Directorate, Neil Grant, said:

“Maritime safety is always our priority, and this is why we have worked hard to secure continuation of an emergency towing vessel for this environmentally sensitive area of the UK.”