A programme of ground investigation work is set to begin from 21st August 2023 at Port Ellen ferry terminal.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) is leading the development project to deliver upgraded berth infrastructure and terminal improvements to accommodate the two ferries being built for Islay, which the public has voted to be named MV Isle of Islay and MV Loch Indaal.
The investigation works will determine the ground condition across the site and will be used to inform the final design and details of the port infrastructure upgrades. Most of the work will be undertaken from a “jack-up” barge positioned at various locations in Kilnaughton Bay and Loch Leodamais.
The investigation work will run for approximately twelve weeks; however, this is subject to progress and weather conditions.
Due to the nature of the works, the regular ferry service to Port Ellen will be diverted to Port Askaig between 11th September and 17th November, during which time CalMac Ferries will operate all scheduled sailings from Port Askaig’. Departure times will remain the same, with a shorter journey time for sailings re-routed from Port Ellen to Port Askaig. CalMac will confirm any operational or service changes shortly.
Port Ellen Harbour will remain available for all non-ferry vessels throughout the works period, with appropriate safety measures in place.
Robert Morrison, Operations Director at CalMac, said:
“We would like to reassure our passengers and local communities that we will continue to operate our normal Islay services to Port Askaig during the planned closure of Port Ellen. Advance notice will be provided to passengers affected by the Port Ellen closure.”
Kevin Hobbs, Chief Executive of CMAL said:
“The ground investigation works are a crucial step in upgrading Port Ellen in preparation for Islay to accommodate the two new ferries. The significant investment will address long-standing issues such as capacity and resilience that have caused restrictions for many years.
“While we acknowledge that these necessary disruptions to the ferry service are not ideal, we have worked closely with service operators CalMac, our design engineers, and the contractor to carefully programme the works to minimise the inconvenience. We are very grateful to the communities for their patience and understanding during this process.”
The two new 94.8-metre ferries for the Islay routes are the first of four new vessels being built at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Turkey. The ferries will have a clear focus on freight, as well as sufficient passenger accommodation to meet anticipated demand, with capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars, or 14 commercial vehicles each. This will provide a combined 40% increase in vehicle and freight capacity on the Islay routes and will improve the overall resilience of the wider fleet. The first vessel, MV Isle of Islay, is expected to be completed at the yard in October 2024, with the same expected for MV Loch Indaal in February 2025.
Port Ellen Terminal Development and the new Islay ferries form part of a programme of investment by CMAL, funded in part through Scottish Government commitments to capital investment of around £700 million in ferry infrastructure, and related services, over the five years from 2021 to 2026. Wider plans will deliver other port infrastructure upgrades and new small and major vessels for the fleet, with future options being considered through the emerging Islands Connectivity Plan.