Cemre revealed as preferred bidder for CMAL’s ferry pair

Scottish state-backed ferry owner Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) has selected Cemre Marin Endustri A.S shipyard in Turkey as the preferred bidder for the construction of two new ferries.

Illustration; Image credit Wikimedia

The two new vessels are intended to support the communities at Uig, Lochmaddy and Tarbert (Harris).

“This is a big step forward in procuring two new vessels for the Little Minch routes to Lochmaddy and Tarbert. These ferries will deliver dedicated services to North Uist and Harris in the peak season, rather than the shared vessel operation currently in place.

“We will now enter a 10-day standstill period before finalising the contract. We intend to share an update in early January after the festive period with further information, such as forecasted delivery dates, Jim Anderson, Director of Vessels at CMAL said.

“Our intention is that these vessels will be deployed on the Skye triangle routes to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, creating the opportunity to significantly increase capacity and resilience by delivering dedicated services to communities in the peak season,” Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said.

“It will also allow consideration of all options to deploy Vessel 802 on an alternative route. All of these options will be discussed with island communities, including potentially operating alongside her sister ship, the MV Glen Sannox, to provide additional capacity to and from Arran in the peak season.”

The new ferries will be built to the same specifications as the ones Cemre is building for Islay, the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides islands, off the west coast of Scotland.

Namely, in March 2022 the shipyard won a £91 million ($ 109.7 million) contract to build the two ferries intended for the Islay routes. The 94.8-metre, vehicle passenger ferries will each have capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars or 14 commercial vehicles, providing a combined 40% increase in vehicle and freight capacity on the routes. The company said that carbon reduction has been a key factor in vessel design and that the new ferries are expected to deliver a significant reduction in emissions.

The first steel for the first vessel was cut in October 2022 and the ferry is expected to be delivered by October 2024. The second vessel will follow in early 2025.

The ferries form part of a 10-year programme of investment by CMAL, backed by £580 million from the Scottish Government for five years from 2021 to 2026.  Plans will deliver 21 new vessels for the fleet and multi-million-pound upgrade of harbour infrastructure over the next decade. Further multi-million-pound investment will be needed to fund plans from 2026 onwards.

The contracts were awarded following a competitive bidding process. However, Scottish shipbuilder Fergusson Marine (Port Glasgow) Limited did not make the cut even to the shortlist over significant delays in delivering CMAL’s LNG ferry duo.

The troubled shipyard was supposed to deliver the dual-fuel LNG ferries back in 2018. Nevertheless, following a financial collapse it was taken over by the Scottish government and the yard has been struggling to complete the vessels ever since.

Based on the latest update from the yard, the target date for the completion of 801 Glen Sannox, which was launched in November 2017, remains May 2023, while for vessel 802 the delivery has been set for March 2024.

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