£150,000 pontoon project at Shetland port.

Lerwick Harbour is to further expand facilities for the increasing number of yachts using the Shetland port, with the installation of additional berthing this summer.

A contract valued at £145,000 has been awarded by Lerwick Port Authority to Ocean Kinetics, Lerwick, for a 60-metre pontoon which is scheduled for completion by 1 May. Design work brings the project costs to around £150,000.

The dual-purpose pontoon, to be located at Albert Wharf, will also be used by cruise ship passengers.

While the majority of cruise ships can berth at Victoria Pier at the town centre or at Holmsgarth, the larger vessels now operating are increasingly calling at the port. With these anchoring in the sheltered, deep-water harbour, the pontoon will serve as a floating landing stage, providing improved transfer of passengers.

The pontoon will be in use by cruise ships on a limited number of occasions during the season and available at other times for yachts, for which facilities have been expanded significantly in recent years.

Allan Wishart, the Port Authority’s Chief Executive, said: “The latest project continues our investment in improved facilities for the very important tourism market, and is designed not only to serve established port users, but also to attract additional visitors to Shetland by expanding berthing and improving transfers.”

The port attracted more yachts from the UK and overseas in 2005 - 464, compared with 412 in 2004.

Highlights of the 2006 season will include visits by crews in the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race, in port sometime between 21-28 June, and competitors in the Bergen-Shetland Races, between 22-25 June.

The harbour is included in the promotion of Shetland at the London Boat Show from 6-15 January.

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