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CalMac’c Newest 'Hybrid' Ferry Begins Advanced Sea Trials

17th August 2016
Newbuild, Catriona, one of only three sea-going passenger and vehicle roll-on, roll-off ferries in the world has begun sea trials, she is to enter service for CalMac next summer Newbuild, Catriona, one of only three sea-going passenger and vehicle roll-on, roll-off ferries in the world has begun sea trials, she is to enter service for CalMac next summer Credit: CalMac

#Newbuild - Scottish operator, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) latest newbuild 'hybrid' ferry, MV Catriona, has begun advanced sea trials around the Isles of Arran and Cumbrae on the Firth of Clyde.

The hybrid ferry launched in December 2015, is one of only three sea-going passenger and vehicle roll-on, roll-off ferries in the world to incorporate a low-carbon hybrid system of traditional diesel power and electric lithium-ion battery power.

The diesel electric hybrid ferry will be carrying out real time trials this month on the Largs/Cumbrae route and at Lochranza/Claonaig. Trials will not affect normal timetabled service and no passengers will be carried.

Catriona is almost 30 metres long and can accommodate 150 passengers and 23 cars or two HGVs and is owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL).

It is the first ship to be built by the newly formed Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) in Port Glasgow and will follow the first two hybrid ferries MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar into service with CalMac.

John Salton, Fleet Manager at Caledonian Maritime Assets said: "The trials are designed to balance the diesel and battery output to ensure best fuel efficiency. We expect to deliver the vessel to CalMac for operation soon after completion of the trials."

CalMac's director of operations, Drew Collier said: "We look forward to welcoming the MV Catriona into service following the successful conclusions of these trials."

The vessel will be officially handed over by owners CMAL in September. The vessel will be initially deployed on the Claonaig Lochranza crossing to meet increasing demand on this route from summer 2017.

Afloat adds that the same Clydebank yard, FMEL have also an order from CMAL for a pair of 100m long newbuild ferries, each with a 1,000 passenger capacity and 127 cars/16 HGV's (or combination).

The environmentally friendly 'duel-fuel' (LPG and marine diesel) powered pair are earmarked for the Ardrossan-Brodick (see port redevelopment) and the Uig Triangle routes. A final decision depends on deployment with CalMac and also from analysis of demand on the operator's main routes.

 

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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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