Replacement of the major fleet

—Jim Anderson, director of vessels

The work we are doing to provide safe, reliable, and sustainable ferries is vital for island communities. We are progressing well with a major renewal programme to replace up to 21 vessels over the next 10 years and, with an additional £110m in funding from the Scottish Government, we have been able to move several projects forward.

Replacing and upgrading the fleet is a complex task and there are a number of factors to consider. We work with consultants and specialists from a variety of backgrounds, as well as our in-house team who bring years of experience with them. As part of my role, I chair several working groups which pull together expertise and insight on a range of projects.

These groups are vital for understanding the ‘why’ behind our decisions and allow us to discuss requirements and ideas for the design and build of new vessels. Drawing on combined experiences from several projects allows us to balance resilience requirements, budget constraints and prioritising community benefit.

We also work closely with our infrastructure team to ensure we have the necessary facilities in place, to confirm and agree what work may be required, and how to minimise disruption during the construction phase. As we transition to alternative fuels and sustainable power, ensuring we understand what is needed at our harbours and in the supply chain in the early stages is vital.

We currently have four vessels under construction at Cemre Shipyard in Turkey. These new ferries will be the first major vessels in our network to have diesel-electric hybrid propulsion with DC main switchboards; welcomed by the ship’s crews and another step forward in our ambitions for a sustainable ferry network. They will cope better with the changing weather patterns and be more manoeuvrable.

It’s a careful balance to juggle the needs of island communities and our Net Zero aspirations with Scottish Government funding commitments, however we are committed to delivering new, modern vessels over the next 10 years and beyond.

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