Winter 2023


From the helm

Hear from CMAL’s Chief Executive, Kevin Hobbs

News and views

Catch up with the latest CMAL news

Harbour spotlight

This time, we visit Armadale on the Isle of Skye

Behind the scenes

Navigating Complexity: Small Vessels, Big Decisions

Water we up to?

Take a closer look at some of CMAL’s live projects

Picture this

Seas the day—our photos from the past few months

From the helm

—Kevin Hobbs, Chief Executive of CMAL

As the year end approaches, CMAL’s focus is firmly on the delivery of substantial projects aimed at fortifying island communities, and enhancing economic growth for businesses and residents alike.

CMAL is at the forefront of this work, and as we delve deeper into each project, we often find the complexity increases. Further on in this edition, Lewis Hammell, a Technical Manager at CMAL, explains how we navigate complicated, collaborative projects.

In pursuit of lowering our carbon footprint and emissions, we have designed the vessels under construction in Cemre Shipyard, Turkey, in collaboration with naValue GmbH, incorporating efficient technologies. The ferries, destined for Islay and the Little Minch routes, align with our vision for environmentally friendly maritime transport.

To strengthen the resilience of our infrastructure, we are making a number of significant improvements at Kennacraig, Port Askaig, and Colonsay—collectively known as the Islay Vessel Enabling Works. This strategic initiative aims to ensure robustness and strengthen port capabilities in readiness for the new vessels. These upgrades will also improve the overall journey experience for ferry passengers.

Additional ongoing work includes the complete renewal of our Port Ellen facility. The project addresses historical limitations by significantly increasing capacity and accessibility, laying the foundation for a more efficient and dynamic maritime hub.

Made possible by our collaboration with Transport Scotland and CalMac, these projects on Islay are intricately linked, reflecting our holistic approach to sustainable development and strategic planning for the benefit of the communities we serve.

Elsewhere, we have recently invested a seven-figure sum in ferry shore power infrastructure at the Port of Aberdeen. This investment is a pivotal step towards a greener maritime future. We’re not just reducing emissions but shaping a sustainable future for maritime transport—one that resonates with CMAL’s commitment to environmental sustainability and innovation.

Community engagement remains at the centre of our ethos, ensuring that the voices and needs of ferry users are heard and addressed. Behind every milestone achieved is our professional and talented team at CMAL, supported by world-class consultants. Their unwavering dedication realises our vision, exemplifying our commitment to excellence.

Kevin Hobbs
Aerial photo of Armadale

Harbour Spotlight

Situated on the Isle of Skye, Armadale harbour has been undergoing vital traffic management works to improve passenger safety when travelling to and from the port.

At the beginning of 2022, phase one of the works commenced, seeing the development of the port’s accessibility to passengers. This involved the relocation of the bus layby, as well as the widening of the exit from the ferry to improve movability for vehicles exiting onto the main road.

With the goal of improving passenger capacity and safety, further developments were made to the car park and marshalling area. This, paired with the alteration to the direction of the traffic flow and new pedestrian crossing, saw the beginning of the works set to enhance safety and operations at the port.

In January 2024, phase two is expected to commence. This phase will build on the initial work and its focus on providing a safer passenger experience, with the addition of a dedicated motorhome parking area located away from the normal car park. Supplementary road humps, pedestrian crossing points and increased signage will also be implemented to reduce the speed limit. 

The works at Armadale harbour are expected to be completed prior to the introduction of the summer timetable in March 2024.

Current facilities:

  • Staffed location
  • Pier with two berthing areas
  • Linkspan
  • Small vessel access stairs on south side of pier
  • Passenger gangway on pier
  • Car Park
  • Terminal building with waiting room and toilets
  • Bus stop

Fast facts:

  • Armadale accommodates nine ferry arrivals/departures per day in summer and 2–3 per day in winter
  • Caters for motorbikes, cars, coaches and the scheduled local bus
  • Small cruise vessels up to 80 metres in length can use the face of the pier

Behind the scenes

Navigating Complexity: Small Vessels, Big Decisions

—Lewis Hammell, Technical Manager

Rendering of Little Minch Ferry

In the realm of complex programme management and decision-making, few initiatives showcase the intricacies as well as our Small Vessel Replacement Programme (SVRP). This programme unfolds in two phases, aiming to replace ten small vessels within the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) network.

Replacing these smaller vessels presents a unique set of challenges, with many factors to consider. Accommodating people and vehicles within a smaller space means the stakes are high, making precise decision-making paramount.

CMAL approaches these challenges with a collaborative spirit. Our in-house teams work with a range of consultants and specialists from diverse backgrounds. We draw on years of collective experience from complex projects and programmes, allowing us to balance resilience requirements, budget constraints, and prioritise community benefit.


CMAL is charting a course toward standardisation in vessel design, aiming for improved reliability, resilience, accessibility, and capacity

With numerous stakeholders in the mix, including Transport Scotland, CalMac, local authorities, and private harbour authorities, decision-making involves a huge collaborative effort.

The journey begins with defining the scope for each vessel, with Transport Scotland providing a set of service requirements. The key to navigating the next steps lies in the level of the detail, especially in the early stages. This ensures robustness before advancing to the procurement stage, instilling confidence in the delivery process.

As part of this work, CMAL is charting a course toward standardisation in vessel design, aiming for improved reliability, resilience, accessibility, and capacity. The pursuit of a standardised design demonstrates our commitment to consistent quality, from the concept design phase through to delivery.

Another major strategy decision by CMAL, in alignment with the Scottish Government’s climate change commitments and the journey to net zero, is opting for all-electric, zero-emission vessels. This pathway follows a meticulous evaluation of various designs and propulsion concepts, highlighting the programme’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Robust decision-making is vital, with approximately 90% of crucial determinations made before embarking on the procurement process. Working group meetings, where CMAL collaborates with Transport Scotland and CalMac, serve as the key point for these pivotal decisions.

We are in the final stages of preparing tender documents for the SVRP and plan to appoint a yard in the first half of 2024. Amidst the complexities, collaboration emerges as the guiding principle, and CMAL’s SVRP is testament to meticulous planning, collaboration, and a commitment to innovation. The programme serves as a beacon for those navigating the intricate waters of maritime transformation.

Water we up to?

In this feature, we take a closer look at some of CMAL’s live projects. For this edition, we’re reflecting on the progress of the four ferries that are being built at the Cemre shipyard in Turkey. We’re also celebrating the launch of the naming competition for the two Little Minch vessels, which kicked off this week.

Vessel progress at Cemre 

Progress on the four vessels being built at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Turkey is coming along well, with key milestones for both the Little Minch vessels, as well as the two Islay vessels, being met in the last six months.

In May we welcomed significant progress for both Islay vessels and the first of the Little Minch vessels with the steel cutting and keel laying ceremonies, as well as the naming of the Islay vessels.

First, we saw the naming of MV Isle of Islay and MV Loch Indaal, the two vessels intended to serve Islay and Jura. Following a public vote, these were the two most popular names selected for the sister ships. Delivery is expected towards the end of 2024 for MV Islay of Islay, and early 2025 for MV Loch Indaal. Shortly after, we marked the keel laying of MV Loch Indaal, as well as the steel cutting of the first of the two Little Minch ferries.

Four months later, the first Little Minch vessel saw its keel laid whilst the first steel was cut for its sister ship. This was a notable sign of progress for the project, bringing us one step closer to delivery of the Little Minch vessels, which is expected to be in the second half of 2025.

Naming Competition for Little Minch Ferries

This week we also reach another exciting development for the two Little Minch vessels as we commence their naming competition.

The competition invites the public to vote for one name from each of the two groups of shortlisted names inspired by the scenic landscape and rich history of Harris and Uist.

The shortlisted names are—

Group 1:

  • Eubhal
  • Eilean Dorcha
  • Claymore
  • Orasay

Group 2:

  • Pioneer
  • Scotasay
  • Clisham
  • Lochmor

We’re looking forward to seeing what names prove the most popular amongst the public and encourage readers to cast their votes while they can. The competition will close at midnight on Monday 18th December 2023.

Picture this—Seas the day

Check out what our team has been up to over the last few months.

Have you been at one of our community engagement events? Or spotted one of our ferries on the move? Tweet us at @cmassets for a chance to be featured in the next newsletter.

Rendering of Little Minch Ferry

CMAL CEO Kevin Hobbs meeting Transport Minister, Fiona Hyslop, at the new Tarbert Harbour facility

Rendering of Little Minch Ferry

CMAL’s Brian Fulton and Kevin Hobbs meeting Stuart McMillian MSP at the UK Shipping event at the Scottish Parliament

Campbell McIver, senior civil engineer at CMAL, discusses plans for the Gasay Terminal Development project on BBC Alba’s An Là programme

Campbell McIver, senior civil engineer at CMAL, discusses plans for the Gasay Terminal Development project on BBC Alba’s An Là programme

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