A deal to purchase a ferry for deployment on the Clyde and Hebrides network has been agreed, bringing additional resilience to the fleet.
The MV Utne has been earmarked for the Oban-Craignure route, and communities in Skye and the Western Isles will also benefit as a result of the cascade of vessels elsewhere on the network.
Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said:
“I’m very pleased to announce that MV Utne has been purchased by CMAL to join the ferry fleet serving the Clyde and Hebrides network. We have always said we would look to the second hand market for additional vessels to support our island communities, and this purchase is the result of this ongoing work.
“The Scottish Government has committed £580 million to fund new ferries and port investments over the next five years. We continue to work with CMAL and CalMac to develop potential programmes that will deliver additional improvements to the network.”
Kevin Hobbs, chief executive at CMAL, said:
“The search for a suitable second hand vessel has been long and challenging, and we’ve experienced a few false starts. But we are glad to bring this much-needed second hand tonnage to the fleet to provide the operator, CalMac, with some resilience.
“MV Utne has been operating successfully, with a fully complaint passenger certificate from the Norwegian Maritime Board. The vessel has operated for five years in Norwegian waters and that offers us confidence in its compliance, safety and operability.”
Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said:
“This is welcome news. Sustainable transport links to and from our islands are key to supporting community life, and attracting the people and skills we need for a successful future.
“We will continue to raise the local and national importance of this, and look forward to hearing more details about how this additional ferry will be put to work for our communities, businesses and visitors.”
The MV Utne will transfer to CMAL around the end of this month, before undergoing modification work to allow it to enter service on the Oban – Craignure route. The works are expected to be completed by early 2022, with CalMac staff then undergoing on board training and familiarisation.
Deployment details will be confirmed by CalMac in due course, subject to the vessel achieving MCA certification and the completion of crew training and sea trials.
Engagement work is now underway with key stakeholders to develop detailed deployment, cascade and related timetables for the 2022 summer season.
Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said:
“The addition of the MV Utne to the CalMac fleet is extremely welcome and will bring much-needed resilience to the network. We will continue to work closely with Transport Scotland and CMAL to determine how best MV Utne can support our delivery of lifeline services.”