As export demand grows, so must our freight offering.

John Salton, Fleet Manager

If you’ve travelled on one of our ferries, you’ll likely picture yourself onboard a CalMac service, enjoying a hot drink from the Mariners café, or standing on deck watching the waves or wildlife. When we design vessels for passengers, we consider seating plans, accessibility, food and refreshments, bathroom facilities and a host of other amenities which make the journey safe and enjoyable.

However, when it comes to designing a freight orientated vessel, it’s an entirely different set of requirements.

We are currently in the feasibility stage of designing a new vessel to serve Islay and Jura. The Islay route is one of the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network, and the incoming ferry will support the island’s growing demand.  It will be designed with a clear focus on freight, with sufficient passenger accommodation to meet anticipated demand, especially the whisky industry which is vitally important to the island’s economy. We must consider inbound and outbound goods in order to ensure that there is sufficient capacity. Equally, we also have the unenviable task of ensuring that a vessel, in terms of capacity and fuel type remains “fit for purpose” for its lifetime – which can be more than 30 years.

Freight vessel design for the Northern Isles requires us to take additional considerations into account. For example, when transporting shellfish and whitefish from Lerwick to Aberdeen (to be sent onwards to France and Spain) we must ensure there are enough electric plug-in points to supply the refrigerated trucks holding the fish. When transporting dangerous goods, such as fuel, we must also consider other commodities on board, such as whisky, and ensure robust safety measures are in place.

Whilst the import of goods has long remained a lifeline for many island communities, it is the increase in demand for exported commodities that has fuelled demand for a more robust freight offering.  From whisky to candles, modern technology has connected our islands with international markets and the opportunity to sell their goods on a global scale – and we are proud to support this.