Two new CalMac ferries for Islay to be built in Turkey

A Turkish shipyard has won a £105 million contract to build two new CalMac ferries for its Islay routes.

Cemre Marin Endustri has been named as preferred bidder for the order against three other yards by transport minister Jenny Gilruth, which will increase vehicle capacity by nearly 40 per cent.

The first vessel is expected to be delivered by October 2024 and will enter service following sea trials and crew familiarisation, which normally take several months, with the second vessel due to follow in early 2025.

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They will each carry up to 100 standard-size cars and 450 passengers, with carbon emissions expected to be 30 per cent lower than the largest of the current vessels on the routes.

The new ferries will cut emissions by up to 30 per cent. Picture: Transport Scotland

A further £25m will be spent on upgrading ports.

The minister stressed the importance of such orders being completed on time and budget, in a veiled reference to the fiasco over two hugely-delayed and over-budget ferries being built for CalMac by Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow.

Several previous major CalMac ferries have built abroad, including the last new Islay vessel MV Finlaggan, which was completed in Poland in 2011.

CalMac’s newest large ferry MV Loch Seaforth, which operates on the Ullapool-Stornoway route, was built in Germany in 2014.

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Ms Gilruth said: “These links are some of the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network and the new vessels will help to grow the island’s economy, as well as bring added resilience to the fleet.

“This underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to bringing in new ferries to support our island communities.

"We want to continue to see progress on bringing vessels into service on time and budget.”

The minister said the order was part of Transport Scotland’s £580m plan to boost ferries.

Transport Scotland said the overall cost of the vessels and related port infrastructure works, including project management and delivery costs, would be around £130m, comprising around £105m for vessels and £25m for ports.

CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond said: “We very much look forward to welcoming these two new vessels into the CalMac fleet.

"This will help us deliver a service we can all be proud of.”

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