Two new CMAL ferries being built for the Little Minch routes have met milestones.
The keel was laid for the first vessel, while the first steel was cut for its sister ship. The ferries, which are being built at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Turkey, are expected to be delivered in June and October 2025.
The new 94.8-metre vehicle and passenger ferries will be designed and built to the same specification as the two new vessels for Islay, and will replace the one vessel that currently covers the two Little Minch routes, Uig to Lochmaddy and Uig to Tarbert.
The public will be invited to vote on the name of both ships later in the year. With capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars, or 14 commercial vehicles, the new vessels will provide increased vehicle and freight capacity on the Little Minch routes, whilst enhancing the overall resilience of the wider fleet.
Kevin Hobbs, chief executive of CMAL said:
“The build programme at Cemre is progressing well, and meeting these key milestones is another significant step forward for the project.
“Laying the keel for the first ferry to operate on the Little Minch routes means that other units can now be fabricated and assembled, while the steel cutting for the second ship marks the transition from drawings to creating the physical ship with steel.
“The vessels will bring much needed resilience to the fleet, and provide a better, faster and cleaner service for passengers to enjoy.”
Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said:
“I welcome this important milestone for both Little Minch vessels, as it moves us closer to having them join the fleet to bring welcome additional capacity, reliability, and resilience for our island communities.
“We have committed to adding six new major vessels to the fleet by 2026, and it’s encouraging to see good progress continues to be made on bringing them into service.
“The Scottish Government shares the desires of island communities for sustainable and effective ferry services and looks forward to continuing our constructive engagement with them on future services and vessel replacements.”
The two Little Minch vessels are two of six new major vessels set to join the CalMac ferry fleet by the end of 2025. The other four will be Islay vessels MV Isle of Islay and MV Loch Indaal, and Arran vessels MV Glen Sannox and MV Glen Rosa.