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Complete Port Package for All your Needs 01/09/2011

Situated within the Inner Moray Firth, the Cromarty Firth was previously a military port in the first and second world wars, the sheltered waters of the Firth provided a safe anchorage for battleships, heavy cruisers and aircraft carriers of the home fleet. It was at this time that Invergordon established itself as a primary engineering facility. The deep water close to the shore allowed two large floating dry docks to be operated and skilled tradesmen moved into the area to establish a naval dock yard.

The Cromarty Firth Port Authority was established by Act of Parliament in 1973 but the naval presence did not leave the Firth until the early 1980’s. With the establishment of the Port Authority came the opportunity for the region to take advantage of the recently discovered North Sea oil. This was a time of great change, with the development of the Nigg fabrication yard, Nigg oil terminal, the British Alcan smelting plant, a pipe coating works, the Invergordon Service Base and the pipe spooling facility at Highland Deephaven.

Today’s activities are focused around oil and gas with large rigs moored in the Firth and repair works undertaken at the modern facilities situated at the Invergordon Service Base. Bulk cargo ships can be seen loading and unloading bulk commodities at Saltburn Pier. Large oil tankers loading crude oil from the Beatrice and Jacky fields and ship to ship transfers can be seen at the Nigg oil terminal. Modern sophisticated subsea ships can be seen working at the Invergordon Service Base and Highland Deephaven pipe spooling facility. In the summer months over 64,000 cruise passengers visit the Firth and enjoy the spectacular views of the Highlands.

The Cromarty Firth is pleased to play a significant role in the development of renewable energy within the North of Scotland. In the last 5 years over 200 full turbine assemblies have been shipped through the Invergordon Service Base. The two 5MW Beatrice experimental offshore wind turbines were assembled and transported out of the Firth to site and there have been five experimental wave and tide turbines constructed and shipped to site including the Oyster, Atlantis and OPT’s Powerbuoy. Cromarty Firth Port Authority’s commitment to renewable energy includes 12 acres of hard standing with a load bearing capacity in excess of 7 tonnes per metre for both fabrication and storage. The Service Base also has the advantage of heavy lift pads and open quay areas with adjoining support land. Full engineering support can be provided by key tenants JPR Fabrication and Global Energy, whose expertise in subsea and renewable engineering is second to none. A shed of 2,400m2 has been constructed on site with a crane lifting height of 22 metres, in addition to other purpose built engineering and assembly undercover facilities.
The Invergordon Service Base can offer over 400 metres of fully serviced deep water quays and 30 acres of support land with sheltered access to the Firth at all states of the tide. The port can also offer deep water for testing equipment up to 50 metres below Chart datum.

The Cromarty Firth Port Authority is operated as a Trust port under its own act of parliament. It is the custodian of the Firth, being responsible for safe navigation, the environment and developing its berths and facilities at Invergordon and Saltburn for the benefit of all its stakeholders. The Port authority is managed by an appointed Board of seven members plus a Chief Executive and has no shareholders; its primary function is to protect the Firth and to assist in generating employment opportunities. A total of over £5m has been invested in the Invergordon Service Base in the last five years to improve security fencing, roads, hard standing, lighting, access, car parking, undercover storage and tank storage. The estimated income generated to the Highland Economy by the Firth, excluding crude oil exports, is estimated to exceed £100m per year with over 1,500 direct and indirect job opportunities. In 2010, £2bn in goods and services were shipped through the Firth.

Captain Ken Gray the Chief Executive and Harbour Master said “we at CFPA pride ourselves on being part of a flexible and forward thinking business we have full ISO9001:2008 accreditation and are investing in the future. The support of the Board as well as the drive and enthusiasm shown by our staff is playing a major role in the ports future. We have recently completed a 20 year Master Planning Study and this is now our blueprint for moving forward into 2030 and beyond. The report has highlighted future trends and future business activities. The Firth is a significant environmental area with SSSI, Ramsar and SAC status and we are proud to be able to balance the environmental and commercial business activities within the Cromarty Firth.”

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