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Third Cutting Edge 'Hybrid' Ferry Launched on Clyde for CalMac

22nd December 2015
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#ThirdHybrid - The third of three cutting edge 'hybrid' ferries MV Catriona, was launched on the Clyde this month at Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd's (FMEL) shipyard in Port Glasgow. She is to serve the Scottish government-owned operator, CalMac.

The unique design of MV Catriona and her sisters are sea-going passenger and vehicle roll-on, roll-off ferries that incorporate a low-carbon hybrid system of traditional diesel power and electric lithium-ion battery power.

Her sister MV Hallaig, was the first in the world to incorporate this technology in a sea-going vessel when launched in December 2011. The innovative vessel was launched by Mrs. Anna Østergaard, wife of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) Chairman, Erik Østergaard.

MV Catriona is 43.5m long, accommodating 150 passengers, 23 cars or two HGVs and is owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) and will be run by CalMac Ferries Ltd, the operator of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service.

Sea trials are scheduled for spring 2016 (see Afloat report on MV Loch Seaforth) and the newbuild MV Catriona is to enter service following testing and certification.

Erik Østergaard, Chairman of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd commented: "We are very proud that the design and construction of this new class of ferry, using world class technology, was carried out in Scotland, continuing a proud tradition of shipbuilding on the Clyde.

"The launch of our three hybrid ferries - MV Hallaig, MV Lochinvar and MV Catriona - demonstrates CMAL's commitment to leading the way in innovative ferry design and our focus on creating new vessel technology. The technology is cleaner, quieter and cheaper to operate and maintain than ever before. Their introduction to our fleet demonstrates the vast economic potential of developing green technology within the transport industry."

The £12.3 million vessel is a further investment by the Scottish Government in CMAL's Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service fleet and is the third commercial ship to be fully built and delivered on the Clyde in five years. This is the first ship built by Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL), who was awarded the contract in September 2014, following their purchase of the Ferguson Shipbuilders business. The previous two hybrid vessels were also built in the same yard.

The new ferries are designed to operate on many of the short crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides and the route for this ferry will be announced by CalMac Ferries Ltd early in 2016.

Transport and Islands Minister, Derek McKay, said: "The official launch of the MV Catriona marks a further milestone in our improvements to the fleet serving the Clyde and Hebrides network.

"Delivery of this third hybrid vessel not only underlines the Scottish Government's commitment to making our ferry fleet sustainable and reliable, but it also showcases the expertise on offer at the FMEL shipyard. The technology used on the new vessel will mean it will be fuel efficient and have lower maintenance costs, whilst still ensuring a quality service for passengers.

"The Scottish Government has invested a record £1 billion in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007. With a £97 million order made for two new vessels for the fleet - also to be built at the FMEL yard on the Clyde - there will be further good news to come for our island communities.

"I congratulate all parties involved in the project and look forward to seeing the MV Catriona enter full service next year."

Liam Campbell, Managing Director, FMEL, added: "We would like to acknowledge our appreciation to both CMAL and the Scottish Government for placing the order for the latest hybrid vessels with FMEL last September. The build of MV Catriona was a welcome boost to us and, indeed, the Inverclyde Community."

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) Managing Director, Martin Dorchester, said: "We look forward to welcoming this, the third vessel in this class, to our fleet and working with CMAL to get her in service as quickly as possible. The further adoption of hybrid technology reinforces CalMac's position as the UK's most innovative ferry operator."

The first hybrid ferry, the MV Hallaig, was launched in December 2011 and services the Sconser to Raasay route.

MV Lochinvar, the second hybrid ferry runs from Tarbert to Portavadie and launched in May 2013.

Their low-carbon hybrid system is leading to a reduction in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Operational experience has shown, from analysis of MV Hallaig, that the hybrid vessels are capable of reducing fuel consumption by up to 38% compared to a conventionally powered vessel of the same size.

The reduction of fuel consumption will result in a decrease in CO2 emissions in excess of 5,500 tonnes per vessel over their lifetime with a proportionally similar decrease in sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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