Steel fabrication for two new 102-metre ferries for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Network – one of which is set to run on the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangle route – is approaching the halfway point.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has been given a progress report on the project during a visit to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) on the Clyde.
Currently known as Hull 801 and Hull 802, the first steel was cut for the new vessels in February.
Each ferry is designed to carry 127 cars or 16 heavy goods vehicles (or a combination of both) and up to 1000 passengers. They will be capable of operating across a range of drafts and speeds to meet the requirements of the current operator, CalMac, to service a wide range of ports and routes.
The ferries will be ‘dual-fuel’ vessels so they can operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine diesel. LNG is significantly cleaner, emits less carbon and has been adopted by ferry operators in Northern Europe in response to tighter sulphur emissions regulations.
Each vessel will enter into service following berthing trials, sea trials and crew training, usually 2-3 months after delivery.
CMAL is set to launch a competition in early 2017 to invite communities to help name the new vessels.
Mr Yousaf said: “It’s been fantastic to visit the yard in person and see the work being carried on these new ferries from close quarters. Not only have I seen real progress on this important project, but I’ve also been able to witness the fantastic skills and expertise of the workforce in action here on the Clyde.
“The new vessels will be welcome additions to the Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network. Their dual-fuel systems mean they will be able to use cleaner fuel, whilst also future-proofing them for the advent of tighter emissions regulations.
“It’s no secret the current ferry fleet is being pushed to its full potential in order to provide the increased level of services that communities are looking for. So these new ferries will help CalMac continue to provide safe and reliable services for the communities that depend on these vital links.
“It is also very encouraging to see the Ferguson Shipyard thriving. The Scottish Government is committed to creating vital jobs to boost local economies and the award of this contract helped Ferguson Marine safeguard its workforce, as well as take on more staff and apprentices.
“I look forward to seeing these new ferries take their place in the West Coast ferry fleet.”
Jim McColl OBE, Chairman of shipyard owners Clyde Blowers Capital, said: “It is a matter of great pride for everyone at Ferguson Marine that we are on schedule for the halfway stage of steel fabrication for these two innovative vessels. What makes it remarkable, is that we are doing so at the same time as continuing to totally transform the shipyard. Already, our new assembly shed has altered the Port Glasgow skyline, but it’s only one part of sweeping changes.
“While all of this is going on, we continue to develop our design and build skills, always with an eye on leading the market, wherever the opportunity exists.
“The two dual fuel ferries we are building for CMAL are the first of their kind in the UK and follow on from the battery hybrid ferry, MV Catriona, which went into service in September. Her sister ship, MV Hallaig, was the world’s first hybrid ferry, built by Fergusons in 2011.
“We enjoy a great partnership with CMAL. It is quite unique to have a customer who is always asking you to push the boundaries. It means we are working together to bring back the glory days to the lower Clyde and help build long term confidence in the future of wider Inverclyde.”
Erik Østergaard, Chair of CMAL, said: “The two dual-fuelled ferries will be a welcome addition to our fleet. Not only will they provide a fully flexible, year-round service for the island communities, they will do it with cleaner, more sustainable fuel technology.