Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: CalMac

Twin newbuild ferries that are delayed and overbudget at a shipyard in Scotland and which are to serve Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) could be worth a “fraction” of the £360m taxpayers have spent on them when they are finally completed, MSPs have been told.

Speaking on the newbuilds to operate on the west coast, Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton had raised concerns as Wellbeing Economy Secretary, Neil Gray updated the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood on the works carried out on the dual-fuelled powered newbuilds Glen Sannox (as above) and Glen Rosa.

The twins, each 102m in length are being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow for CalMac so to bolster its ageing fleet. The new ferries (with a reduced passenger capacity of under 1,000: see story) are set to go into operation on the Ardrossan-Brodick (Isle of Arran) route on the Forth of Clyde. 

Leadship Glen Sannox and newbuild no 105, Glen Rosa which in recent months was given a name, have been beset by issues which have seen multi-year delays and cost overruns. Combined this has put the cost of construction to £360m, compared with the initial £97m price tag when the contract was signed for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine diesel fuelled ferries.

STV News has more on the shipyard saga, as the ferries which were to have entered service in 2018.

Published in Shipyards

As the shipyard ferry fiasco in Scotland continues, ministers in Edinburgh have come under fire as new estimates suggest the cost of the dual-fuel powered newbuilds could reach £400m.

The figure for the CalMac ferries, does not include the millions pumped into the nationalised shipyard Ferguson Marine to keep it operating, amounts to over four times the £97m contract cost for the two lifeline ferries to serve on Arran on the Forth of Clyde.

Both newbuilds, Glen Sannox and the recently named twin, Glen Rosa following a public vote, still await delivery at the Inverclyde shipyard, downriver of Glasgow.

Chief executive of Ferguson Marine, David Tydeman indicated that it will cost an extra £240 million to build the ferries on top of what was previously spent before the nationalisation of the shipyard took place in 2019.

As The Herald, which more on the story, reports that £83.25 million was spent on the ferries prior to the Scottish Government taking control of the shipyard firm with an additional £45 million on loan.

Published in Shipyards

Following the success of BBC's eight-part T.V. documentary about Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), the ferry operator is delighted to confirm a second series of ‘Island Crossings’ has been commissioned.

The first series which went behind the scenes, as Afloat reported, focused on the working lives of the crew and staff who serve west coast islands and communities across the network. It also focused on many of the people and communities which depend on CalMac, exploring their way of life and livelihoods.

Feedback about the first series from viewers, CalMac staff and communities has been very positive. Viewing figures when watched live and on BBC iPlayer has also been high.

Island Crossings is being created by IWC Media, the production company is also behind Susan Calman's Secret Scotland (Channel 5), Scotland's Home of The Year (BBC One) and Location, Location, Location (Channel 4). They are preparing to travel the network once again in a bid to gather stories and filming opportunities. The second series will feature many people and places across the network.

Robbie Drummond, Chief Executive of CalMac, said: "We are delighted with the success of series one, and are really looking forward to providing more insights into how CalMac operates. I really welcome the opportunity for us to give a true reflection of the lengths our people go to, to provide the best service we can for our communities and customers, highlighting the service that our colleagues provide every day even in challenging circumstances.

"Our customers constantly tell us how much they value and appreciate the people who work for CalMac, and Island Crossings is giving us the ideal platform to show viewers how committed they are to helping customers and island communities."

All of the episodes of series one of Island Crossings are available to view on BBC iPlayer here.

Published in Maritime TV

On the Firth of Clyde a Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferry which has been plagued by technical problems for almost six months, has been seen at a berth in Ayr harbour.

The port of Ayr, operated by Associated British Ports is located south of Troon and also Ardrossan from where the ferry route connects Brodick, Isle of Arran.

The 1985 built ferry MV Hebridean Isles, one of oldest in the fleet, made for an unusual sight at Ayr as CalMac was forced to change the usual berthing arrangements for its ageing Arran ferries due to the bad weather.

Hebridean Isles was seen arriving into Ayr on the morning of Tuesday, 1 August in a passage from Troon which Afloat adds took around 40 minutes to complete and the ferry remains in Ayr this morning, 3 August.

The 494 passenger ferry, one of two serving Islay-Kennacraig, Isle of Mull (see above Afloat photo) was deployed to the Arran run but has  been unable to operate since February because of 'manoeuvrability issues'. This has forced CalMac to charter the 430 passenger and vehicle catamaran, MV Alfred, from private operator Pentland Ferries serving South Ronaldsay, one of the Orkney Islands.

The 3,040 gross tonnage Hebridean Isles has been berthed in Troon (see Arran 'freight' run) in efforts to continue to try and fix technical problems.

Due to the "lack of space" however, Hebridean Isles was forced to head for Ayr, as the bad weather was forecast on the Clyde which also restricted the use of berthing facilities at Ardrossan harbour.

A spokesperson for CalMac said: "Due to adverse weather forecast on Wednesday, August 2, MV Caledonian Isles will berth overnight on the Irish berth in Ardrossan tonight (Tuesday, August 1)".

"As a result, MV Alfred will relocate to Troon for overnight berthing tonight. Due to lack of space at Troon, and to accommodate the relocation of MV Alfred, MV Hebridean Isles has been requested to temporarily move to Ayr."

More from theAyr Advertiser on the Clyde route and the redeployment of the Isle of Arran, the second routine ferry on the Ardrossan-Brodick route.

Published in Ferry

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) will be the focus of a new fly-on-the-wall T.V. documentary series which will show the work and life aboard their services to Scotand's west coast island communities that it connects.

The first of the eight episodes of 'Island Crossings' is to be screened today, Sunday at 9pm on the BBC Scotland channel as Afloat previously reported.

CalMac which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, operates the largest ferry fleet in Britain of 35 (albeit in domestic waters) across 26 islands, running more than 500 sailings every day, operating 29 different routes. 

Among the extensive route network are those that connect Arran (see ferry trip) Harris, Islay and Skye and dozens of smaller islands to mainland Scotland and inter-island services. 

In tonight's opening episode, Ardrossan, the port for the Isle of Arran on the Firth of Clyde, is where port terminal assistants Kirsty and Debra -– who was only four weeks into the job at the time. They have to deal with complaints and concerns from thousands of passengers bound for Brodick Highland Games, including Kilbarchan Pipe Band members, as they are left waiting indefinitely after MV Caledonian Isles (see photo) breaks down (see CalMac's Arran service update) on the busiest day of the year.

The programme also features Isle of Mull youngster Oscar leave home, just as hundreds of other islander pupils have to do when they reach secondary school age. The school goers early on Monday mornings take the ferry crossing to spend the week on the mainland in Oban at the school hostel.

InverClydeNow has more on the new documentary series.

Published in Maritime TV

Scottish government owned ferry operator CalMac have confirmed the new timetable for the catamaran MV Alfred which is to serve on the Forth of Clyde route between Ardrossan and the Isle of Arran.

According to the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, announcement follows a a successful familiarisation period of recent weeks for the ferry which Afloat adds usually operates on the Pentland Firth between the mainland and Orkney Islands.

As previously reported Scottish ministers have chartered the 430 passenger /98 car carrying catamaran for nine months at a cost of £9 million.

The charter from Pentland Ferriesis in a bid to ease the growing ferry crisis on west coast and isles services where technical problems have beset ferries.

Below is a timetable for the catamaran operate until Thursday, 29 June:

Friday – Monday

Depart Ardrossan - 08:00, 11:30 and 16:15
Depart Brodick - 09:45, 13:15 and 18:00

Tuesday – Thursday

Depart Ardrossan - 08:00 and 16:15
Depart Brodick - 09:45 and 18:00

During this time period, CalMac has advised that all passengers will require to access the vessel via the catamaran's stern ramp.

More here on the catamaran's entry into service and for further service information, click the CalMac's website.

Published in Ferry

In south-west Scotland, repairs to the ferry Caledonian Isles in Brodick (Arran) forced the cancellation of two return sailings to Ardrossan on one of CalMac’s busiest routes.

CalMac said a secondary vessel, Isle of Arran, continued to operate on the route.

The operator said later the fault had been fixed and Caledonian Isles would return to service for (yesterday's 14 Sept) 19:20 sailing from Brodick.

CalMac had tweeted (also yesterday): “Due to an issue with the vessel’s starboard main engine which requires further investigations and repairs, the following sailings have now been cancelled: Depart Brodick - 13:55, 16:40, Depart Ardrossan - 15:20, 18:00.”

The fault is the latest to hit the 29-year-old ferry, which was out of service for more than two weeks at the start of the tourist season in mid-April because of an engine failure.

It should have been replaced by the hugely-delayed Glen Sannox four years ago, but the ferry being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow is not now expected to be completed until between March and May 2023.

Sea trials will follow, so the vessel may not be in service until autumn next year, leaving Arran at heightened risk of further disruption for another summer.

More The Scotsman reports of CalMac's ageing fleet. 

Published in Ferry

A new BBC documentary series will go behind the scenes to report on the working lives of the crew and staff who serve the Scottish west coast communities across the CalMac ferry network.

It will also focus on many of the people and communities which depend on CalMac, exploring their way of life and livelihoods.

The series is being created by IWC Media, the production company behind Susan Calman's Secret Scotland (Channel 5), Scotland's Home of The Year (BBC One) and Location, Location, Location (Channel 4).

Filming will be observational - capturing normal jobs and duties as they happen to represent what goes on behind the scenes at CalMac. Staff are not under any obligation to be filmed and the documentary production company will ensure that operational procedures are not affected.

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said: "Communities have faced an awful lot of upheaval recently and we understand just how deeply this has affected them. This documentary will not gloss over these problems but is an opportunity to highlight the importance of the ferry service to people's lives.

"This is a chance for us to show who we really are and the lengths our people go to every day to deliver our services.

"It will showcase the people who regularly use the ferry service and to promote the unique local businesses operating within the islands, all of whom rely on CalMac."

Published in Maritime TV

Clydeside shipyard Ferguson Marine announced on Monday, the completion of a major milestone in the build of one of the dual fuel ferries currently under construction.

Hull 802, as the vessel is currently known, was fitted with its large bow unit which is the largest single unit added to the ferry’s steel hull, completing the bow structure.

This week will mark a key moment in the vessel’s progress when the final units are lifted into place, completing the main hull and steelwork and making way for the installation of the ferry’s aluminium superstructure, which is all the units that sit above the main deck.

Over the coming weeks and months, resources will ramp up to around 150 people working on Hull 802 to support the construction effort.

The National has more on the Port Glasgow yard which Afloat adds is constructing the ferry for CalMac's Uig Triangle service.

Whereas the first ferry when completed, Glen Sannox is to serve on the Arran service on the Firth of Clyde.

Published in Shipyards

Scottish-state owned ferry operator, CalMac is now looking at redeploying or chartering other vessels to help meet demand because it has no spare large ferries available.

Caledonian Isles is being repaired in Troon (see related story) after suffering an engine failure and hitting the harbour in Ardrossan on Sunday during the busiest (Easter) weekend so far this year.

The Isle of Arran, a substitute ferry drafted in to take over the main Ardrossan-Brodick route – one of CalMac’s busiest – can only carry half as many vehicles, which has caused major disruption to travel to and from the island.

CalMac has cancelled all bookings on the Firth of Clyde route.

This has meant that all but priority drivers, such as those carrying food and fuel supplies and people going to health appointments, are having to queue for sailings.

The engine which failed had undergone routine maintenance fewer than three months ago, the company told The Scotsman which more more on the story.

Published in Ferry
Page 1 of 5

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!