On 19th May both CalMac &  CMAL welcomed Transport  Scotland’s decision to award  CalMac £900 million the Clyde  and Hebrides Ferry Services  (CHFS) contract for up to eight  years.

Meanwhile, work continues  on the new dual-fuel ferries, the  steel for which was cut on 17th  February at Ferguson Marine  Engineering Ltd. (FMEL). The  new 100m, roll on roll off vehicle  passenger ferries are  designed to carry 127 cars or  16 HGVs or a combination of  both and up to 1,000 passengers.  The vessels will be delivered  in 2017 and 2018.

Finnish manufacturer  Wartsila has been selected to  provide the propulsion machinery  packages for both ferries,  namely 6-cylinder 34DF main  engines capable of operating  on either liquefied natural gas  (LNG) or conventional diesel  fuels for each ship. Wartsila will  also provide two auxiliary  engines, gearboxes, shaft lines,  seals and bearings, controllable  pitch propeller systems, tunnel  thrusters, the Wartsila LNGPac  storage and supply system,  plus extended commissioning  and engineering.

Following her launch in  December 2015, the Catriona is  nearing completion in the dock at  FMEL’s shipyard in Port  Glasgow. Her sea trials were  scheduled for June. The remodelled  Weymss Bay terminal reopened  in March but the repair  work at the Port Ellen Ferry  Terminal has been postponed  until autumn 2016. The port’s  linkspan is being replaced and  cylinders and pipework are being  upgraded and work was due to  begin in April. A technical problem  was identified late in the  linkspan fabrication programme,  which would have delayed the  start of works on site by two to  three weeks.

Although the  linkspan was ready by early May,  after consultation, CMAL decided  to wait until autumn to undertake  the work. The 1,599gt/2003  built Coruisk, which had been  relocated to serve Mull was to be  returned to the Mallaig-Armadale  route (the route for which she  was built) following campaigning  there, much to the consternation  of Mull residents. However, in a  clear show of who appears to  pull the strings, Scotland’s  Transport Minister has insisted  that the ship will remain on the  Mull service.

So, the new 3 ship  Armadale service is set to continue  to experience schedule  issues when ships cannot use  Armadale at low tide.

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