Naming ceremony for £700k patrol vessel

Chief fishery officer Al Browne aboard the NIFCA patrol vessel St Aidan. Picture by Jane Coltman
Chief fishery officer Al Browne aboard the NIFCA patrol vessel St Aidan. Picture by Jane Coltman

A new fisheries patrol vessel named after one of Northumberland’s most illustrious saints is set to become a familiar sight along the coastline from Tyne to Tweed.

St Aidan, the new £700,000 vessel belonging to the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA), will be officially named by the Duchess of Northumberland at a special ceremony today, where she will perform the traditional smashing of the bottle to christen the new boat at its berth in the Royal Quays Marina in North Shields.

Aboard the NIFCA patrol vessel St Aidan.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Aboard the NIFCA patrol vessel St Aidan.'Picture by Jane Coltman

St Aidan takes her name from the Irish monk and missionary who, in 630AD, founded a monastic cathedral on Holy Island and is credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria.

The new 16-metre GRP (glass reinforced plastic) catamaran, which replaces the 14-year-old St Oswald, will be used for a mixture of fisheries enforcement work, environmental studies along with seabed scanning and underwater surveying.

St Aidan is also much more efficient, with double the speed of her predecessor, while using only half the amount of fuel. This means it can cover the 60 miles to Berwick at the northern extremity of its patrol area from its base in the North Shields in three hours; less than half the time taken by St Oswald.

NIFCA’s district extends six nautical miles into the sea and runs from the Scottish Border in the north to the southern border of North Tyneside Council in the south. It also includes river estuaries and the existing UK and EU and international marine protected areas. The organisation is jointly funded via a precept by Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council.

The authority’s chairman, Northumberland County councillor Robert Arckless, said: “Our coastline is one of our greatest treasures and it’s vital the seas are managed responsibly for present and future generations. This is a proud day for everyone associated with NIFCA and the new vessel is sure to become a familiar sight to all those involved with the fishing industry in our region.”

NIFCA’s chief fishery officer Al Browne said: “We are absolutely delighted with the new vessel and the extra capability she provides. Delivery of St Aidan followed a lengthy and thorough procurement process; the build commenced early in 2014 at Goodchild Marine, Great Yarmouth.

“The NIFCA would like to thank all concerned and we look forward to St Aidan providing excellent service to the people of Northumberland and North Tyneside for a number of years.”

More to follow.