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Heavy-Lift Crane-Ship Works in Scotland for Ferry Infrastructure on Isle of Skye

22nd November 2023
Crane-ship, Lara 1 which had carried out work in Dublin Port, is seen recently alongside the Scottish harbour of Uig on the Isle of Skye, which is closed for redevelopment work until next month. Lara 1 is at the ferry pier, where fender brackets were installed to the inner dolphin, however alternative travel options for CalMac customers are in place on other routes.
Crane-ship, Lara 1 which had carried out work in Dublin Port, is seen recently alongside the Scottish harbour of Uig on the Isle of Skye, which is closed for redevelopment work until next month. Lara 1 is at the ferry pier, where fender brackets were installed to the inner dolphin, however alternative travel options for CalMac customers are in place on other routes. Credit: highlandcouncil/facebook

A heavy-lift crane-ship which worked in Dublin Port last month at an oil jetty berth as previously reported, is currently carrying out ferry infrastructure upgrade works in Scotland at Uig Harbour on the Isle of Skye, writes Jehan Ashmore.

On completion of duties in the Irish capital, Lara 1 proceeded into the Irish Sea and northward to the Scottish west coast island. On arrival at Uig Harbour, which is operated by The Highland Council, is where the ferry port is closed on a temporary basis for a second stage of redevelopment works until at least next month, on 11th December.

As above the Lara 1, formerly named the Mersey Mammoth, has been engaged in various works, among them the installation of replacement infrastructure at the ferry berth used by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) on routes linking Lochmaddy, North Uist and Tarbert, on the Isle of Lewis and Harris.

The closure as such as affected routine CalMac operations, however alternative travel options across the Little Minch are in place to support customers who would normally travel to/from Uig, Tarbert and/or Lochmaddy. For a summary of current travel options, click here among them is the temporary Ullapool-Lochmaddy route operated by the Hebrides. 

Redevelopment works at Uig enables the replacement of life expired infrastructure with new interfaces to be installed at the harbour (for updates click here) to facilitate new ferries for CalMac services on the Little Minch. The two newbuilds are been built for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) at the Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Turkey. The public will be asked to vote on the names for these two vessels next year and are expected to be delivered in June and October 2025.

In addition, the twins are also built to the same specification for ferries under construction at the same shipyard in Turkey (for Islay and Jura routes), but will have raised aft mooring decks to accommodate the higher pier heights at Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy.

As for the Islay and Jura newbuilds that will connect Kennecraig on the Mull of Kintyre, the delivery of Isle of Islay is expected in October 2024, with Loch Indaal expected in February 2025.

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!