Joy because the two new ferries could be bound for Arran

You want to know more ?

We value our content and our journalists, so to get full access to all your local news updated 7 days a week – PLUS an electronic edition of the Arran Banner – subscribe today for as little as 48p a week .

Connection problems and need
technical support? Click here

Subscribe now

By Hugh Boag

News that Arran could be served by the two long-delayed ferries currently under construction at Ferguson Marine’s shipyard was greeted with joy across the island this week.

The surprise announcement came from Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday when she confirmed that Hull 802 was planned to serve alongside her sister ship MV Glen Sannox on the route of Arran.

It had always been thought that the Hull 802, also under construction in Port Glasgow, would serve the routes in the Skye-Uist-Harris triangle.

The dramatic news that she could be coming to Arran came after it was revealed the Scottish Government has prioritized additional funding to allow Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) to fast-track plans for two more ships replacement in the CalMac fleet – one of which will now serve the Skye Triangle.

They will be built to the same specifications as the existing ferries being built for Islay. This will speed up the replacement of the core fleet of ships and provide a more standardized ship type that can be used on a variety of different routes, providing potential economies of scale and increased public value.

It is expected that the contract will be awarded before the end of the year. Overall project costs are estimated at around £115 million, including an allowance for minor port improvements.

Bringing two new boats to the Arran route to replace the MV Caledonian Isles, which turns 30 next year, and the 1984-built MV Isle of Arran for summer crossings would be a huge boost for tourism and the island at large – despite being five years behind schedule and could cost upwards of £300million, more than three times their original cost.

Jenny Gilruth told Parliament: “The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to improving the vital ferry fleet and better meeting the needs of island communities. I am therefore delighted to announce additional funding to enable CMAL to launch a market for two additional ships for the CalMac fleet.

“Our intention is that these ferries would be deployed on the Skye Triangle routes to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, providing dedicated services to communities during peak season rather than the shared vessel operation currently in place. This will create the opportunity for greatly increased capacity and resilience for communities in the Western Isles.

“It will also allow all options to be considered to deploy Vessel 802 on an alternative route, potentially including alongside her sister vessel MV Glen Sannox, to provide additional capacity to and from Arran during the peak season. All options will be discussed with island communities when the time comes.

“Since this government was elected in May 2021, we have purchased and deployed an additional vessel in MV Loch Frisa in June, previously chartered the MV Arrow to provide additional capacity, made significant progress in building 801 vessels and 802, commissioned two new ships for Islay and incremental investment to improve key ports and harbours. Now we are delivering two additional new ships and continuing to work on all reasonable and appropriate opportunities to improve short-term capacity and resiliency through pre-owned ships.

The MV Glen Sannox is due to be completed next April before entering service on the Arran route after sea trials later next year, when service will be diverted to Troon for at least 18 months. Work on Hull 802, which slipped to complete her sister ship, is not expected to be completed until early 2024.

The construction of the two ferries for Islay is already underway at a shipyard in Turkey and it is likely that the new contract could also go abroad.

Kevin Hobbs, Chief Executive of CMAL, said: “This is a much appreciated commitment from the Scottish Government which enables us to accelerate 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 the communities of Harris and North Uist will benefit from two-vessel service, a decision that will strengthen overall resilience. ‘

A recent photo of the MV Glen Sannox taken from the sea.

The bow’s 100-ton lifting block will be attached to Hull 802, at Ferguson Marine’s shipyard in April. NO_B43ferry01

A recent photograph of the MV Glen Sannox in Port Glasgow from the sea. NO_B43ferry02

About Kevin Strickland

Check Also

Plans for Coney Island ferry unknown after ‘exhaustive search’

A city agency says it is still committed to bringing ferry service to Coney Island, …