A new fisheries patrol vessel, which is set to become a familiar sight on the coast, was officially named by the Duchess of Northumberland this week.
The new £700,000 vessel for the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) is called St Aidan and she was christened at her berth in Royal Quays Marina, North Shields, on Tuesday with a traditional smashing of the bottle.
The new 16-metre GRP (glass reinforced plastic) catamaran, which replaces the 14-year-old St Oswald, will be used for a mixture of fisheries enforcement work, environmental studies along with seabed scanning and underwater surveying.
St Aidan is also much more efficient, with double the speed of her predecessor, while using only half the amount of fuel. This means she can cover the 60 miles to Berwick at the northern extremity of its patrol area from its base in North Shields in three hours; less than half the time taken by St Oswald.
NIFCA’s district extends six nautical miles into the sea and runs from the Scottish Border in the north to the southern border of North Tyneside Council in the south.
It also includes river estuaries and the existing UK and EU and international marine protected areas.
The organisation is jointly funded via a precept by Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council.
NIFCA’s chief fishery officer Al Browne said: “We are absolutely delighted with the new vessel and the extra capability she provides.
“Delivery of St Aidan followed a lengthy and thorough procurement process; the build commenced early in 2014 at Goodchild Marine, Great Yarmouth.
“The NIFCA would like to thank all concerned and we look forward to St Aidan providing excellent service to the people of Northumberland and North Tyneside for a number of years.”