The Mull and Iona Ferry Committee has compared the two Islay vessels ordered by CMAL with a Norwegian vessel currently being built at Turkish shipyard, Cemre.

It is important that we address misinformation and misleading statements from individuals and sources, who to the best of our knowledge do not have the relevant technical and professional knowledge, qualifications, skills and experience and are not in possession of all the facts.  A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Drawing comparisons between the Islay vessels and a Norwegian vessel order is an entirely flawed approach, and one which demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the technical aspects of ship design and shipbuilding.

There are several reasons for a price differential and issues that must be considered when drawing any comparison. The price for each Islay ferry is £44.5m, excluding spares, which compares to a reported £32.5m for the Norwegian vessel referred to.  That is a difference of £12.0m, not double the cost as reported by this committee. There are very clear reasons for the cost difference, some of which are laid out as follows:

  • The wave, tidal and wind climate at berths in Norway are different to those in Scotland and this gives rise to completely different ship to shore interfaces. The costs associated with this manifest in several ways:
    • The mooring arrangements for Scottish vessels whilst alongside adds ~£1.0m to the cost.
    • The ramp arrangements to interface with linkspans adds ~£1.5m.
    • Two tunnel thrusters for berthing at exposed locations (versus none on the Norwegian vessel) adds ~£0.5m.
  • The power required to achieve 16.5 knots is double that required by the Norwegian vessel at 13.5 knots, adding ~£3.0m.
  • Requirements for fin stabilisers whilst in open water compared to relatively sheltered routes (the Norwegian vessel does not require these on their route) adds ~£0.75m.
  • The Norwegian vessel has unrestricted draft at the fjord berths and has a design of 5.0m versus the Islay vessel design (which has restricted draft) at a maximum of 4.0m. This leads to a requirement to have around 100 tons of aluminium on the Islay vessels, which in turn adds ~£1.0m. Note: one of the key requirements is to maximise the number of trucks / deadweight for Islay, which is one of the busiest freight routes across the islands.
  • The stringent requirements for accommodation, for both crew and passengers, including all accessibility criteria such as a Changing Places toilet and adequate lift capacity, adds ~£3.0m.
  • There are differences in the application of Euro Directives between the MCA and the NMB (as witnessed when the MV Utne (MV Loch Frisa) was purchased).  These include navigation, communication and watertight integrity adding ~£2.0m.

Also omitted by MIFC within their narrative is that, even in Norway, we understand that to get a grid capacity of 7.5MW needed for a 13.5 knot vessel is estimated to be in the region of £15m. To achieve the 16.5 knots would require double that grid capacity at considerable additional cost in Scotland.

A comprehensive stakeholder engagement exercise was undertaken to support and inform the replacement vessels for Islay, which included communities and the industry partners that rely on lifeline ferry services to accommodate their businesses.  The Islay and Jura Ferry Committee were very satisfied with the process and have been very supportive of our work.

To be clear on the vessel design and options process, CMAL receives a statement of operator requirements, which reflects operational and service needs.  This informs vessel design.  We use the expertise of independent naval architects to support the design process, providing added objectivity in the decision-making process.  Design is not arbitrarily “chosen” by CMAL.  Vessel choice is also informed by current and future passenger and freight demand; comfort; safety; reliability; sustainability; efficiency; and cost, including projected operational costs – to name a few.  An important factor in all vessel choice is compatibility with specific routes, as well as flexibility to meet vessel redeployment needs across the network.


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