New Scottish ferry contract goes abroad


Opposition MSPs have slammed the Scottish Government after it named a Turkish shipyard as the preferred bidder for a contract to build two new ferries for the Islay routes.

Transport Scotland said government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd will award the contract to the Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard, following a 10-day standstill period.

Source: Transport Scotland

It said the new vessels will bring almost a 40% increase vehicle and freight capacity on the Islay routes and a reduction in emissions and improve the resilience of the wider fleet.

Transport minister Jenny 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 nationalised Ferguson shipyard was among 11 bidders but failed to make the shortlist.

Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, an ex-shipbuilder, said the tender process should be scrapped and restarted. He said: ‘It's a disgrace that a Turkish shipbuilder has today been recommended for a £110m contract for the two new Islay ferries. No Scottish or UK yard made the final shortlist, despite compliant bids.

‘The 34 ferries in the CalMac fleet have an average lifespan of 25 years. A National Shipbuilding Strategy should be planning a continuous production line of one ferry every nine months. Instead we have a replacement cycle of 87 years, and millions of pounds of orders going overseas.’

Transport Scotland said the first vessel is expected to be delivered by October 2024 and will enter service following sea trials and crew familiarisation. The second vessel will follow in early 2025.

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