Additional investment for a further two vessels.
Work to procure two new ferries to help support island communities and improve the resilience of the Clyde and Hebrides network is underway.
The Scottish Government has prioritised additional funding to enable Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) to accelerate plans for replacement vessels in the CalMac fleet.
They will be built to the same specification as the existing ferries under construction for Islay.
This will speed up the replacement of the major vessel fleet and provide a more standardised vessel type that can be used on a variety of different routes, providing potential economies of scale and enhanced public value.
It’s expected the contract will be awarded before the end of the year.
The overall project costs are estimated at around £115 million, including allowance for minor port improvements.
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said:
“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to improving the lifeline ferry fleet and better meeting the needs of island communities, so I’m pleased to announce additional funding to allow CMAL to launch a procurement for two additional vessels for the CalMac fleet.
“Our intention is that these ferries would be deployed on the Skye triangle routes to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, delivering dedicated services to communities in the peak season rather than the shared vessel operation currently in place.
“This will create the opportunity for significantly increased capacity and resilience for the communities of the Western Isles.
“It will also allow consideration of all options to deploy Vessel 802 on an alternative route, including potentially alongside her sister ship, the MV Glen Sannox, to provide additional capacity to and from Arran in the peak season.
“All the options will be discussed with island communities at the appropriate time.
“Since this government was elected in May 2021, we have bought and deployed an additional vessel in the MV Loch Frisa in June, previously chartered the MV Arrow to provide additional capacity, made significant progress in the construction of vessels 801 and 802, commissioned two new vessels for Islay and progressed investment to improve key ports and harbours.
“Now, we are delivering a further two new vessels as well as continuing to work on pursuing all reasonable and appropriate opportunities to enhance capacity and resilience in the short term through second hand vessels.”
Kevin Hobbs, Chief Executive at CMAL, said:
“This is a highly welcome commitment from the Scottish Government, which allows us to increase the pace of vessel replacement plans in line with our ambitions.
“This additional investment will bring two new vessels to the fleet, meaning a total of six major vessels will be replaced by 2026.
“It also means communities in Harris and North Uist will benefit from a two vessel service, a move that will strengthen overall resilience.”