New CalMac Ferries to be built outside Scotland

By: Steven Tarbox
Last updated:
FINLAGGAN. Image: Caledonian MacBrayne
The Islay ferry FINLAGGAN. Image: Caledonian MacBrayne

Government owned shipyard not invited to bid for new Islay ferries

Scottish Government owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has announced that four shipyards have been invited to bid for the contract to build two new Caledonian MacBrayne ferries for Islay.  Notably, Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) is not one of the shipyards.  FMEL, which is also owned by the Scottish Government, is currently building two much delayed ferries.  The first of the ships had originally been expected to be delivered during 2018 but is still under construction.  The project has already cost more than twice the originally agreed price.

The four shipyards invited to bid for the new Islay ferries contract are:

All four shipyards are experienced in the design and build of similarly sized ferries and have recent successful ferry design and build experience.  Remontowa designed and built the current Islay ferry FINLAGGAN which was delivered CMAL in 2011.  Some 35 organisations expressed an interest in the project, with 11 returning responses. It seems possible that FMEL will have failed a delivery schedule criteria in the procurement process given the delays to the current pair.

Two ships rather than one

Today’s CMAL announcement also confirms that two ships will be ordered for Islay rather than the previously expected one.  The new vessels will have a larger vehicle capacity and lower energy consumption than the current vessels.  According to CMAL, they will also have the capability to operate an overnight freight service

Jim Anderson, Director of Vessels at CMAL said:

“We received interest from many shipyards across the world, and carried out robust assessment of their technical and financial suitability to take on this project.

“Four shipyards scored the highest across both criteria and have now been issued an ITT for the contract. This stage of the procurement process will take around six months, and we hope to award the contract to the winning shipyard at the end of March 2022.

“The ITT stage marks an important step forward in bringing a new vessel to Islay and Jura.  It is one of several new vessel and harbour upgrade projects we are currently progressing to improve the resilience of ferry services for island communities.”

Although FMEL has not been successful in bidding for this ferry contract, it is likely that the yard will have ample opportunity to win other Caledonian MacBrayne contracts.  Over half of the operators ferries are now over 25 years of age with some much older.  For example, ISLE OF CUMBRAE dates from 1976.

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