Activity across three of the main industry sectors it serves saw the Port of Cromarty Firth report its busiest day of the year so far this week .
Business at at the port’s Invergordon facilities on Monday included three visiting cruise liners, with a total of 3,695 passengers, three berthed oil rigs and continuing work with components for an onshore windfarm.
Yesterday Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive, Bob Buskie, said the levels of activity were a welcome boost for the port and the local supply chain.
The port is on course to set a new visitor number record by the time its five month cruise ship season comes to an end on 26 September. An estimated 96,500 people, aboard 63 vessels are expected to have visited by then, which would be the highest number since the first liner arrived in 1978 and and increase of 12.5% on last year.
On Monday, the Caribbean Princess, with 3,200 passengers was berthed at the port’s Admiralty Pier, while the cruise ship Deutschland, with 450 people aboard was tied up at Invergordon Service Base. Also moored at the service base quayside were the Paragon MSS1 semi-submersible rig and the Hebridean Princess, which with 45 passengers is the smallest cruise ship to visit Invergordon.
A newly built jack-up rig, the Maersk Highlander, which arrived at the port last week after being transported from a shipyard in Singapore, was at the Queen’s Dock. The rig is due to be deployed for a five-year drilling contract in the Culzean gas field, in the North Sea.
Also on Monday, another jack-up rig, the Maersk Reacher, was moored at the port’s newest berth, alongside components for the Corriemoille windfarm.
Four shipments of components for the 17 turbine project, near Garve, Ross-shire, have arrived at the port. They consisted of deliveries of towers from China, each of which arrived in three sections weighing up to 67 tonnes and blades from Turkey.
The Port of Cromarty Firth recently completed the third phase of a development programme at Invergordon Service Base in a effort to attract a wider range of customers. Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the project involved reclaiming nine acres of seabed and the construction of the 154m deepwater quay.
Mr Buskie, said: “Our recent investment of more than £22m on port lay-down facilities and the quayside expansion is now paying dividends with much of the lay-down space being utilised for the storage of onshore windfarm components and the new quay hosting the Maersk Reacher jack-up drilling rig.
“The rest of the service base is nearing capacity with our other berths currently in use. We have another new Maersk rig in, which has just arrived from Singapore and is currently alongside the Queens Dock, and the Paragon MSS1 is carrying out some project work on Berth 4. With three cruise ships alongside other quays, this has been an extremely busy time for the Port and its staff.”
He added: “This much needed on-going work is welcomed by the port and its supply chain who service these projects. The Highland economy will also continue to benefit significantly from the cruise ships currently visiting the port.”
It has been estimated the port’s current cruise liner season will benefit the local economy by more than £11m.