History of our hybrid ferries

Read more on MV Hallaig
Read more on MV Lochinvar
Read an update on the build of MV Catriona

In February 2011 the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Keith Brown confirmed Scottish Government funding to CMAL for the Low Emission Hybrid Ferries Project, which has seen the world’s first sea going Roll On Roll Off vehicle and passenger diesel electric hybrid ferries being designed and built in Scotland.

In December 2011, the project received additional funding of £450,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow, Scotland worked alongside Glasgow based ship design specialists Seatec and electrical specialists Tec-Source to fit out the two original hybrid ferries. The first of which, the MV HALLAIG, was launched by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on 17th December 2012. This was followed a few months later by the second ferry, the MV LOCHINVAR, which was launched on 23rd May 2013 by Mrs Patricia Platten, wife of CMAL’s previous CEO, Guy Platten. A third hybrid ferry, MV CATRIONA, was commissioned by CMAL in September 2014, also to be built in Port Glasgow by Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd. It is costing £12.3 million and launched in December 2015 and enter service in the summer of 2016.

The ferries, are operated by the current operator , CalMac Ferries Ltd, and are designed for use on many of the short crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides and uses some of the most innovative new ‘green’ technology, including battery banks supplying a minimum of 20% of the energy consumed on board.

The MV HALLAIG entered service in November 2013, serving communities on Skye and Raasay, with the MV LOCHINVAR, entering service in December 2013 serving the Tarbert to Portavadie route. The operator will announce the route for MV CATRIONA in summer 2016.

All three hybrid ferries use a low carbon hybrid system that combines traditional diesel power with electric battery energy. The system is leading to a reduction in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Each ferry accommodates 150 passengers, 23 cars or 2 HGVs, with a service speed of nine knots and is powered by small diesel generator sets, feeding power to a 400 volt switchboard, which, supplies power to electric propulsion motors that turn the propulsion units.

In addition, two lithium-ion battery banks with a total of 700kWh also supply power to the units.. The battery banks are charged overnight from the mains.

From analysis and figures obtained during trials and operations of MV HALLAIG, the hybrid vessels are capable of reducing fuel consumption by up to 38% compared to a conventionally powered vessel of the same size. The reduction of fuel consumption will result in a decrease in CO2 emissions from each vessel of in excess of 5,500 tonnes over their lifetime, with a proportionally similar decrease in sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions. This machinery arrangement introduces a high level of equipment redundancy allowing the vessel to continue operation with an engine failure or no diesel fuel availability for any reason and also has the capability of operating the Sunday Raasay to Sconser service on batteries alone with zero emissions from the vessel.

This video from Imtech about the Energy Management Technology being used.

We are also looking at the possibility of using energy from local wind, wave or solar systems to charge the batteries, making the process even more environmentally friendly.

The investment and the build of the first two ferries at Fergusons in Port Glasgow helped to support 175 jobs and 20 apprenticeships in the local community and supported the growth of the Inverclyde economy. The third hybrid ferry provided a boost for the newly formed Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, part of Clyde Blowers Capital, securing jobs in the shipyard, many of whom were employees of the previous owner, Fergusons and worked on the first two hybrid ferries.

The vessels are fully compliant with the European safety rules and standards for passenger ships, applicable to sea going vessels, allowing them to operate in areas that are out with the capabilities of vessels designed to operate solely in UK categorized waters. They are outfitted with propeller systems and extended vehicle ramp arrangements allowing access to a large number of slipways throughout the west coast of Scotland in varying weather and tidal conditions.

Over the next few years we have an ambitious programme of fleet renewal and we are committed to leading the way in innovative, sustainable ferry design. This project has provided a fantastic commercial opportunity for Scotland and shows how, as a nation, we are leading the way in cutting edge ship design and build.

MV Catriona was launched by Mrs Anna Østergaard, wife of our Chair, Erik Østergaard, on Friday 11th December at 11am. For an update on the build and photos and video of the launch, please click here.

Pictured below, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure & Capital Investment Alex Neil, Duncan McNeil, MSP Greenock & Inverclyde, Guy Platten our previous CEO, Richard Deans MD, Fergusons and Raymond Brown Production Manager, Fergusons gathered at Ferguson Shipyard, Port Glasgow to announce the contract being awarded in November 2011.

Alex Neil, Duncan McNeil, Guy Platten, Richard Deans and Raymond Brown gathered at Ferguson Shipyard

Photos of MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar