Two new CalMac ferries for crossing Islay will be built in Turkey

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

Cemre Marin Endustri was announced as the preferred bidder for the order against three other yards, which will increase vehicle and cargo capacity by almost 40%.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd intends to award the contract after a ten day standstill period.

The first vessel is expected to be delivered by October 2024 and will enter service after sea trials and crew familiarization. The second ship will follow in early 2025.

The Islay route is one of the busiest freight services on the Clyde and Hebrides network.

Jim Anderson, Director of Vessels at CMAL, said: “The identification of a preferred bidder is a major step forward in the project to supply new vessels for Islay and Jura.

“All four shipyards submitted compelling bids, but with a solid assessment of the technical and financial criteria, Cemre Marin Endustri was the winner.”

However, Scottish Conservative Transport Minister Graham Simpson said it was an “embarrassment” for the SNP.

Simpson said: “Their government-run yard in Port Glasgow is in no condition to be considered for this contract.

“The two ferries under construction there are far from finished. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Turkish shipyard finished these very welcome new ships for Islay before anything left Ferguson Marine.

“The award is good news for islanders who will have some degree of confidence that they might actually see new ferries at the end.”

It is understood Ferguson Marine went into bidding for the contract through the initial pre-qualification questionnaire process but failed to make the shortlist.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, controlled by the Scottish government, said each bid had been rigorously assessed against “quality, technical and commercial criteria” and the contract was to be awarded to the winning shipyard by the end of March 2022. .

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “I am very pleased to see CMAL appoint the preferred bidder for this vital project, which will see the construction of two new ferries to service Islay’s routes.

“These routes are among the busiest freight services on the Clyde and Hebrides network and the new vessels will help grow the island’s economy, as well as build the resilience of the fleet.

“This underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to establishing new ferries to support our island communities. We want to continue to see progress in bringing ships into service on time and on budget.

“We look forward to continuing to work with key stakeholders to develop programs for large vessels and small vessels – investing at least £580m as part of our infrastructure investment plan.”

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, added, “We are very excited to welcome these two new vessels to the CalMac fleet. This will help us provide a service we can all be proud of.

Sharon P. Juarez