Meet the Team

John Salton, Project Director 

I joined CMAL in 2008, having spent 11 years with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and 16 years at CalMac, so I have a strong background in vessels with the West Coast Ferries. I started at CMAL as a technical superintendent and have progressed through the ranks to my current role of project director.

My first big project was as Project Manager on the build of MV Finlaggan from 2009-2011. Since then, I have been involved in several others, including MV Catriona, MV Carvoria and providing support on MV Loch Seaforth.

As an islander living on Arran, I rely on the ferries to get me to and from the mainland. This gives me a great insight and really drives home the importance of the work we do at CMAL. In my free time and on weekends, I help on our family farm. Lambing season is coming so it’s about to get very busy!

Day in the life: Every day is different and brings with it new challenges, but this is one of the reasons I have been at CMAL for as long as I have. Currently, I’m working on bringing our newest member of the fleet, MV Loch Frisa, into service for the Oban-Craignure route. I am also project lead for the Hyseas III project, which will be the first seagoing vessel in Europe to use purely renewable energy. This project showcases CMAL’s commitment to leading the way toward emissions-free marine transport.

I also work closely with the technical managers in the NorthLink fleet. We survey the five vessels twice annually, assessing what machinery requires upgraded, from galley ovens to generators to main propulsion. We spend £4million a year on upgrades and modifications on the existing NIFS Fleet.

Heather Ferguson, Finance Director

I joined CMAL following 16 years in the charity sector. I was looking for a new challenge, and CMAL felt like a good fit for me professionally. I have always had an interest in ferry travel, as I often holiday in the islands.

Working in finance at CMAL allows me to combine experience from my time in both the commercial and charity sectors. I have learned something new every day; I find it endlessly fascinating. One thing that has struck me is how committed and professional everyone at CMAL is, it’s one of the first things I noticed when I joined the team. It is very much about the people and businesses that rely on the ferries, as well as our contribution to net zero.

Day in the Life: No two days are the same for me. Currently, we are focussing on the annual budgets, preparing for the financial year-end and annual audit that follows that, as well as the capital budget which has been committed from Transport Scotland over the next 5-10 years. It is a team effort, and I spend my time working with everyone from engineers to the senior team to ensure the budget is being spent on the right vessels and ports.

As I oversee the procurement team and the finance team, I get to be involved in projects from start to finish. We are encouraged to get out and visit the network, so I have been able to see all stages of project development. The most exciting project I have worked on so far is the procurement of the new Islay vessels. I have been able to see the project from scratch through the procurement process, and now heading into the actual build of brand-new vessels.