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Scotland’s only council-owned dredger made its inaugural journey from shipyard to sea today.

Press release   •   Apr 07, 2016 15:26 BST

Scotland’s only council-owned dredger made its inaugural journey from shipyard to sea yesterday.

The £2.5million, 250 tonne vessel inched slowly from the Macduff Shipyard construction shed in Buckie to the bottom of the harbour slipway in a 2-hour operation commencing in the small hours. See time lapse film here

Transported on 20 sets of remotely-controlled transporter wheels, the 90-foot ship was floated off at high tide and berthed at a quay within Buckie Harbour.

The vessel is named ‘Selkie’ after the mythical Scottish creatures that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.

The name was chosen by local primary school children, and will be officially conferred on Friday May 6 at a naming ceremony in Buckie harbour, when the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Mrs Clare Russell, will name the ship in the traditional fashion by breaking a bottle of champagne over her bow.

Moray Council is responsible for the maintenance of six harbours, and is the only local authority in Scotland to own its own dredger. The new vessel has been designed to access smaller harbours and will undertake dredging work for other councils around Scotland's coast.

Council Convener Allan Wright said: “The launch of the Moray Council dredger ‘Selkie’ is the latest major strategic development to be delivered by the council. It is an investment in the future of our harbours and a sound business venture as we anticipate dredging contracts from local authorities around Scotland.

“The new dredger joins a long list of major investments that Moray Council has been able to achieve in recent years, like the completion of major flood schemes, and a continuing programme to build new schools and modernise others.

“Despite the financial challenges, we will continue with strategic and affordable investments that benefit all of Moray.”

The dredger is a replacement for the council’s former vessel, the Shearwater, which was sold as scrap in 2012 ago. Moray Councillors agreed to fund the replacement, and the contract was secured by Macduff Design and Shipbuilding after a competitive tender early in 2015.

The dredger’s engines and electrics will all be tested at the quayside before she undergoes sea trials. Once these are completed she will be formally handed over to the council on May 6.

Notes on the Selkie myth:

Male selkies are described as being very handsome in their human form, and having great seductive powers over human women. They typically seek those who are dissatisfied with their lives, such as married women waiting for their fishermen husbands. If a woman wishes to make contact with a selkie male, she must shed seven tears into the sea. If a man steals a female selkie's skin she is in his power and is forced to become his wife.

Female selkies are said to make excellent wives, but because their true home is the sea, they will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. If she finds her skin she will immediately return to her true home, and sometimes to her selkie husband, in the sea. Sometimes, a selkie maiden is taken as a wife by a human man and she has several children by him. In these stories, it is one of her children who discovers her sealskin (often unwitting of its significance) and she soon returns to the sea. The selkie woman usually avoids seeing her human husband again but is sometimes shown visiting her children and playing with them in the waves.

Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 92,500 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.

Headquartered in  Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.