Caledonian Maritime Assets launches vessel replacement programme

Artist's impression of a CMAL SVRP ferry (Photo: CMAL)

Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), in partnership with Transport Scotland and CalMac, is commencing a major programme to replace up to seven small Loch-class vessels serving the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network.

A strategic business case for the Small Vessel Replacement Programme (SVRP) was approved in late 2020 by Transport Scotland. CMAL will publish a contract notice this week for naval architect consultancy services to support its vessels team with the concept design and planning stage.

The programme will lead to a multi-million-pound investment in renewal of the small vessel fleet.

The programme timeline has not been finalised, but it is expected the procurement process for the replacement vessels will begin within the next 12 months, subject to approval of a more detailed business case providing options and solutions and their commercial and financial value.

The vessels to be potentially replaced include Loch Striven, Loch Riddon, Loch Ranza, Loch Dunvegan, Loch Fyne, Loch Tarbert, and Loch Linnhe. All vessels are approaching their operational life expiry.

CMAL said there will be a clear focus on building low-emissions vessels, in line with Scottish government climate change commitments. As part of this, studies will be undertaken to identify which ports can accommodate onshore charging and storage equipment and will influence where new vessels are deployed.

A further core aim will be delivering increased standardisation in hull design, propulsion, and internal layout, as well as improved reliability, resilience, accessibility, and capacity.

The programme will apply relevant lessons learned from previous vessel delivery projects, in particular the hybrid ferries projects, as well as Audit Scotland’s 2017 report into Scottish ferry services and the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee inquiry into the procurement and construction of ferries in Scotland.

A future phase two of the SVRP will replace vessels to serve the Sound of Barra, Sound of Harris, and Sound of Iona routes. However, during phase one, CMAL will investigate a vessel design that complies with changed regulatory requirements for the Sound of Iona.

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