Moray Council insists the problems that caused its much-maligned dredger to be tied up for more than six months are behind it.
The Selkie returned to action this month and has recently completed a 10-day spell dredging at its home port in Buckie as well as Burghead and Hopeman.
The boat was motionless during the winter after staffing issues forced it out of operation.
Yesterday, the authority’s transportation manager Nicola Moss said the council “understood” the situation that had forced it out of action and was developing arrangements to stop it happening again.
She said: “We know why we were in the position we were in with the dredger last year, it’s not something I’m able to discuss.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s not something we planned for. It’s something where we would wish to be in the same position again.
“As part of our future crewing arrangements we are considering the best, most cost-effective and most robust ways to keep the dredger operational.”
Mrs Moss told yesterday’s meeting of the council’s audit and scrutiny committee that the Selkie operates at a net cost of about £300,000 – less than the anticipated £313,000 annual bill if an externally-owned vessel was hired.
However, she warned that the desire to see the vessel landing contracts across the country to generate cash had to be balanced against the duty of the council to dredge its own six ports.
The vessel currently has an interim crew comprised of harbour staff and agency employees with work already underway on developing a permanent plan.
Donald Gatt, vice chairman of the council’s audit and scrutiny committee, said: “I’m convinced that the Selkie is still the best way forward for the council.
“We need to make best use of it. If we can get extra work along the way then so much the better.”