The first of two cutting edge ‘hybrid’ ferries, and the first of its kind in the world, was launched on the Clyde today by Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

The £20 million Scottish Government investment taken forward by CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd) is helping to secure and create around 175 jobs and 20 apprenticeships in the local community and support the growth of the local economy.

Ms Sturgeon was joined at the launch by one of Ferguson’s apprentice shipbuilders who helped deliver ‘HALLAIG’ at their Port Glasgow yard, Jill Hughes.

Speaking from the yard following the successful launch, Ms Sturgeon said:

“Today is a great day for Clyde shipbuilding, and a great day for Scotland. It has been over five years since the last commercial ship was fully built and delivered on the Clyde, and the launch today of the first of two new cutting edge vessels symbolises everything that the Scottish Government is striving to achieve.

“Our £20 million investment has provided the support needed to produce here on the banks of the Clyde, the world’s first seagoing passenger and vehicle roll-on roll-off ferries to use a low-carbon hybrid system of diesel electric and battery power. It is a true testament to the excellence that Clydeside engineering is famous for across the globe, and underlines our ambition to see our shipbuilding industry, and the local community and its economy reinvigorated through investment in jobs.

“The construction of HALLAIG, which will be serving communities on Skye and Raasay next summer, has not only provided a boost for commercial shipbuilding along the Clyde, but has secured 75 jobs for the local community, and helped created around 100 more.

“As Ferguson move to complete her sister ship next year, the investment will also be providing 20 apprentice shipbuilders with the vital first hand experience needed to take their careers forward, experience which will only serve Scotland’s shipbuilding industry well for the future.

“Now HALLAIG is ‘doon the watter’, we should celebrate the jobs this investment is bringing, and that Scotland’s world renowned engineering skills will not only continue as a direct result of the contract, but flourish through a new generation of skilled shipbuilders.“

Grenville Johnston, Chairman of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd commented

“Since our creation following the split of ferry operations with asset ownership in 2006 we have been able to focus on new vessel technology. Today marks an historic day for CMAL and the launch of the HALLAIG clearly demonstrates our commitment to leading the way in innovative ferry design. We are very proud that the design and construction of this new class of ferry, using word class technology, was carried out in Scotland, continuing a proud tradition of ship building on the Clyde.

“The two new ferries will come into operation in 2013 and their technology will be cleaner, quieter and cheaper to operate and maintain than ever before. Their introduction to our fleet demonstrates the vast economic potential of developing green technology within the transport industry.”

Richard Deane, Managing Director, Ferguson Shipbuilders Ltd added:

“This is a fantastic day and it is great to be back building ships on the Clyde. We would like to say a big thank you to the Scottish Government for providing the funding  and also to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd. for awarding such a prestigious contract to Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited.  Employment has more than doubled at the yard and we have started to train apprentices again”.

Notes to Editors

1. Key ship information as follows

•    Length 43.5m (142ft)
•    Breadth 12.2m (40ft)
•    Deadweight 135t
•    Service speed of 9 knots
•    Passengers 150
•    Cars 23
•    Commercial Vehicles 2 Fully laden 44t HGVs, but with space for 4

2. The MV Hallaig and its sister ship are the world’s first seagoing passenger and vehicle roll-on roll-off ferries to incorporate a low-carbon hybrid system of diesel electric and lithium ion battery power. The technology is cleaner, quieter and cheaper to operate and maintain than ever before. The vessel will be powered by small diesel generator sets, feeding power to a 400 volt switchboard, which will supply power to electric propulsion motors that turn the propellers.

3. In addition, the ferries, which will be operated by the current operator of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services, CalMac Ferries, are designed for use on many of the short crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides and will use some of the most innovative new green technology, including battery banks supplying a minimum of 20% of the energy consumed on board.

4. Benefits of the hybrid ferries include reduced fuel consumption and impact of CO2 emission and other pollutants, noise reduction and lower maintenance requirements. The ferries will charge overnight while they are moored on the islands they will serve. It is anticipated future energy from local wind, wave or solar systems will be used to charge the batteries, reducing further the carbon footprint.

5. Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) ran a naming competition for the new ferry and the results were announced on 3 October 2012.  The winning name was “HALLAIG”. Hallaig is a poem by Sorley MacLean, born on Raasay, which the ferry will serve.  It was originally written in Scots Gaelic and has also been translated into both English and Lowland Scots.  A recent translation was made by Seamus Heaney.  The poem is named after a deserted township located on the south-eastern corner of Raasay.  It is a reflection on the nature of time and the historical impact of the Highland Clearances, leaving an empty landscape populated only by the ghosts of the evicted and those forced to emigrate. The choice of Hallaig as the name for the new ferry marks the beginning of the new Scottish Literary Class, meaning all new ships in this class, including the second hybrid ferry, will be named after Scottish literature.

6. The first of the two new vessels is expected to be operational on the Sconser-Raasay route on Skye by summer 2013, with the second vessel coming into operation later the same year.

7. Ferguson are working alongside Glasgow-based ship design specialists Seatec and electrical specialists Tec-Source to deliver the project.

8. CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd) owns the ferries, ports and harbours and infrastructure necessary for vital ferry services serving the West coast of Scotland and the Clyde Estuary. CMAL are wholly owned by Scottish Ministers. Scottish Government is providing CMAL with a loan of £20m for the procurement of these vessels. For more information about CMAL visit: www.cmassets.co.uk, or call Christina Kelly at Golly Slater on 0141 548 8028 or 0131 220 8780.

9. CMAL's Hybrid Ferry Project was awarded a grant of £450,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in December 2011.

10. Transport Scotland is the Scottish Government’s national transport agency responsible for; aviation, bus, freight and taxi policy;  coordinating the National Transport Strategy for Scotland; ferries, ports and harbours; impartial travel services; liaising with regional transport partnerships, including monitoring of funding; local roads policy; major public transport projects; national concessionary travel schemes; rail and trunk road networks; sustainable transport, road safety and accessibility; the Blue Badge Scheme. Transport Scotland is an Executive agency accountable to Scottish Ministers. http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/

For general information contact TS Comms office on:
0141 272 7195
News release:  TSX  SC