Lerwick Port Authority

+44 (0) 1595 692991


It was Norse raisers who first named the landfall Leir Vik - “muddy bay” - but it was another nationality centuries later which was to be the catalyst for the development of the harbour and town of Lerwick

The crews of Dutch herring boats – busses - found the rich fishing grounds off Shetland in the 17th century and gathered each summer in the sheltered waters of Bressay Sound, coming ashore at the bay at Lerwick where initially a seasonal settlement grow up.

Fishing in various forms would dominate the life of the community for hundreds of years and today the modern industry is still a cornerstone of the way of life. Over the period, there have been booms and busts, but the fishing industry has, literally, always been at the heart of Lerwick.

Alongside the fishing boats, there eventually appeared sailing ships and steamers, cargo boats, mail ships, war ships, passenger ships, roll-on/roll-off ferries, oil-related vessels and drilling rigs, cruise ships and yachts as the port evolved over the centuries to accommodate changing times and new requirements and opportunities.

The oil and cruise industries have become additional, new features of the port since the second half of the last century.

Just as the creation of Lerwick Harbour Trust in 1877 provided an impetus for development, its successor, Lerwick Port Authority continues to add to the harbour’s history through its successful operation and continuing development.

Aerial view of North Harbour showing site where Shetland Catch now operatesView looking north over Arlanda, Gremista and Greenhead.

Historical Events

View the history of Lerwick Harbour from different eras:

View All | Pre 1700 | 18th Century | 19th Century | 20th Century | 21st Century

2002 Ferry terminal replaced to suit new generation of passenger ferries
2003 Freight ferry marshalling area improved and new building provided
2003 Seasonal pontoons installed for visiting yachts at Victoria Pier
2003 Port Authority's Operations Centre built at Holmsgarth
2003 Port Authority's constitution modernised and executive members join the board
2006 New Pilot Vessel Knab delivered to replace 26-year-old predecessor
2007 First 1000Mile annual double-handed yacht race visits Lerwick
2007 Largest structure yet delivered by offshore industry to Lerwick for decommissioning
2008 Dredging and reclamation project largest capital project yet at the port
2009 Extension to fish market opened
2009 1000th cruise ship calls at Lerwick
2009 Harbour House rebuilt and new public toilets open
2009 First cruise call over 100,000 GT calls at Lerwick
2010 Announcement of intention to develop a new deep water decommissioning base at Dales Voe
2010 Introduction of new welcome ashore pavilion for cruise passengers
2010 Upgrade of berthing dolphin structure at Holmsgarth completed
2010 Harbour Revision Order granted for next phase of capital projects
2010 Contract award to create new Berth 7 at Greenhead Base and deepening of Berths 5 & 6
2011 Host Port and major sponsor of The Tall Ships Races 2011
2012 Greenhead Berth 6 completed
2012 Contract award to create new quays at Mair’s Yard and Greenhead Base (Berth 8)
2013 Mair's Quay completed
2013 Greenhead Berth 7 completed
2013 Three accommodation barges in port for Shetland Gas Plant
2013 Subsea contractor Technip based at Lerwick
2014 50th anniversary of oil and gas at Lerwick.
2014 Largest ship alongside – ‘Xiang Yun Kou’ a float-on/float-off heavy transport vessel.
2014 Contract awarded for £16.5M Holmsgarth North Jetty
2014 Six floating accommodation barges/vessels at Lerwick
2015 Contract awarded for £11.95M extension to Dales Voe Quay
2015 Contract awarded for new Vessel Monitoring System radars
2016 Record cruise ship arrivals at 79
2016 Dales Voe quay extension completed, strongest in UK
2016 Holmsgarth North jetty completed
2016 Vessel Monitoring system inaugurated and Port Control refurbished
2016 Albert Building office refurbishment, reception and main office moved to ground floor