Two new ferries have been named to serve the communities of Islay and Jura. Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), the owner of these ferries, organized a public vote earlier this year to choose the names. “Isle of Islay” and “Loch Indaal,” named after a sea loch on Islay, received the most votes, securing the top spot. The name “Pioneer” came in third place.
CMAL awarded the £91 million contract to Cemre Shipyard in Turkey, which will be responsible for constructing the ferries. The operation of these vessels will be handled by CalMac. Construction on the first boat began in October of the previous year.
CMAL reviewed 11 bids for the project, including one from the nationalized Ferguson in Inverclyde. However, the contract was ultimately awarded to Cemre Shipyard. The first ferry is scheduled to be delivered by October 2024, after undergoing sea trials. The second ship is expected to follow in early 2025.
Each of these ferries will have a capacity of up to 450 passengers and 100 cars, or alternatively, 14 commercial vehicles. CMAL stated that this will result in a combined 40% increase in vehicle and freight capacity for the Islay routes, enhancing the overall resilience of their west coast fleet.
Kevin Hobbs, the Chief Executive of CMAL, expressed gratitude to the public for casting over 1,300 votes. He also mentioned that progress on the sister ferries at Cemre Shipyard is going well, and he looks forward to seeing the Isle of Islay and Loch Indaal serving communities on the network in the near future.
Transport Secretary Kevin Stewart emphasized that the introduction of these ships highlights the Scottish government’s commitment to bringing in new ferries. Cemre Shipyard was also awarded a £115 million contract to construct new vessels for CalMac’s Skye, Harris, and North Uist service.
The announcement of the names coincides with ongoing controversy surrounding the construction of two CMAL ferries at the Ferguson shipyard. The projects are significantly over budget, exceeding £200 million, and are six years behind schedule.
Economy Secretary Neil Gray announced on Tuesday that a review concluded that completing the second ferry, known as Hull 802, did not offer value for money in “narrow” terms. However, he stated that finishing the vessel at the nationalized yard would be the quickest way to increase ferry capacity and protect jobs. The first ship, named Glen Sannox, is expected to be delivered to CalMac in the autumn, while Hull 802 is anticipated to be ready by summer 2024.