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Displaying items by tag: CalMac

#FerryMobility – Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferries to the Isle of Arran on the Forth of Clyde are trialling a new booking system that should improve the travelling experience for passengers with mobility problems.

The operator is testing a new reservations procedure on the MV Caledonian Isles and the MV Isle of Arran that will prioritise car spaces for people who need access to the lift from the car to the passenger deck. Two car deck spaces have now been identified next to the lifts specifically for wheelchair users and passengers who have difficulty walking.

The project trial was devised by CalMac's Ardrossan port manager, Colin McCort and Customer Operations Support Manager, Rosalind Robertson.

"Currently, we do not have a system in place that allows us to prioritise people who have difficulty getting around. By designating specific car spaces those people will now be able to exit their vehicle directly into the lift that takes them to main deck. Sailing, by its nature, presents barriers to people with mobility issues but this is another small step toward improving the travelling experience for all our passenger whatever their needs," explained Rosalind.

Customers who need mobility assistance when booking on the Ardrossan-Brodick route should now book directly through Customer Contact Centre's freephone number 0800 066 5000 to reserve their space.

The North Ayrshire Access Panel was closely involved in the development of the new booking system.

"The panel members were pleased to be approached by Caledonian MacBrayne to assist in the development of this new system. This is a welcome improvement for passengers that need a bit more help when sailing. We look forward to continuing our work with CalMac on this and other projects," said Panel chairman, Peter Joyce.

The new system will also allow marshals to identify which vehicles are to be prioritised dockside and direct them to specific waiting spaces.

"After closely monitoring the success of this trial we can hopefully roll it out across the network for all vessels with lift access," added Rosalind.

Published in Ferry

#FerryBids - Final bids have been submitted writes STV News in the tendering process for the £1bn Clyde and Hebrides ferry services.

Publicly owned Calmac is competing with UK ferry firm Serco for the eight-year contract to operate ferries on 26 routes covering the west coast of Scotland. Both firms submitted initial tenders to the Scottish Government in December.

They were the only companies which applied to bid for the contract, despite the government extending the usual six-year deal to eight years.

West coast ferries are currently operated by Calmac but Serco won the contract for sailings to Shetland and Orkney in 2012. The west coast contract will be awarded in May 2016 and take effect in October. To read more, click here.

Afloat adds, CalMac's flagship Loch Seaforth (as pictured above) carried out sea trials in the Irish Sea and as far south off Wicklow Head in 2014.

Published in Ferry

#KeepPublic - The Scotsman writes that an “overwhelming” case for keeping CalMac in public hands has been revealed in a new academic report, according to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which commissioned the study.

Private-sector bidder Serco has been motivated to bid for the 26-route west coast ferry network (including Mull of Kintyre) as a “profit-seeking entity”, Glasgow University senior economics lecturer Jeanette Findlay said.

She found “much less evidence” that the firm would champion good working practices and customer service.

For more on the story surrounding the Scottish Government run ferry firm, click here. 

Published in Ferry

#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

#CalMacNewbuild - The newest Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) carferry, MV Loch Seaforth last week was paid a visit by Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP.

The new ferry fresh from German shipbuilders had arrived in Scottish waters only days before the visit and she joins the CalMac fleet which includes Isle of Aran.

As previously reported on, Isle of Aran had operated the summer-only Campbeltown (Mull of Kintyre)-Ardrossan route which has been extended for a third season in 2015.

Mr Brown met the Master and crew and had a short private tour of the £41.8m newbuild which was built by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FGS), while berthed in Inchgreen dry dock, Port Glasgow.

Mr Brown said: "I was delighted to get a chance to see the new MV Loch Seaforth up close and get a taste of what her passengers have to look forward to. The sight of the largest vessel in the CalMac fleet coming down the Clyde last week was a welcome one, and whilst some cosmetic work still has to be done to the interior of the ship, we are another step closer to seeing her enter service.

"The MV Loch Seaforth will offer passengers on the Stornoway-Ullapool route a faster, quieter and more reliable service and has been designed to accommodate a growth in travellers on the route.I look forward to the MV Loch Seaforth offering an improved service for the Western Isles, alongside the planned harbour upgrades at Stornoway and Ullapool."

There are a number of activities planned for her prior to entering service, including completing work on the passenger areas, addressing some outstanding technical matters from build, further Class & MCA inspections and carrying out sea trials and crew familiarisation exercises.

Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac, said: "Bringing the MV Loch Seaforth back to Scotland from the yard in Germany where she was built was an important milestone and once we are fully satisfied that everything is in order, and subject to the completion of the Stornoway Harbour works, will be making arrangements to take her to the Western Isles and, in due course, bring her into service on the Stornoway-Ullapool route."


Published in Ferry

#CalMacKintyre – Caledonian MacBrayne's Ardrossan-Campbeltown summer-only service ended in late September, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Scottish ferry operator originally had a trial pilot-period of two years to assess its viability and this has been extended into a third year with sailings to resume in 2015.

When CalMac launched the service linking Ardrossan (Aryshire) and Campbeltown (Argyll), this was their first new route for almost two decades. The 1 hour 40 minute service is part of a Scottish Government's final Ferries Review that covers ferry operations over a timeframe up to 2022.

Sailings started last May and once again it was the stalwart, Isle of Arann (1984/3,296grt) that carried out crossings enabling more than 600 passengers and 60 plus vehicles to be transported on this scenic route.

The summer service is to reinvigorate tourism in these regions and opening up interesting travel options to explore southern Scotland and where a round trip could include a stopover to Brodick, Isle of Arann dubbed Scotland in miniature. This option is only scheduled on Saturdays and from the direction of Campeltown to Ardrossan.

In addition Isle of Arann boosted capacity on the Ardrossan-Brodrick. The 55-minute service across the Forth of Clyde is operated year-round by Caledonian Isles.

In December a timetable for the 2015 season of the Ardrossan-Campbeltown route is due to released on the CalMac website.

Readers may recall that a trip from Northern Ireland to link in with the Campbeltown-Ardrossan service could be achieved by using Kintyre Express operations from Ballycastle to the port at the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre.

The high-speed RIB based and 'foot' passenger only service ceased crossings also last month.


Published in Ferry

#MullofKintyre – Following last year's launch of Caledonian MacBrayne's Ardrossan-Campbeltown summer-only service, the Scottish ferry operator's first new route in twenty years, is to resume service for this season, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Sailings start this Thursday, 1 May and run till 28 September on the link between Ardrossan on the Firth of Clyde and Campeltown near the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre.

It is understood the car-ferry, Isle of Arann (1984/3,296grt) will operate the 1 hour 40 minute service, which will enable more than 600 passengers and 62 vehicles to be transported on this scenic route.

The summer service is to re-invigorate tourism to these regions and allows for a boost in additional sailings on the Ardrossan service to Isle of Arann using the port of Brodick. Isle of Arann will join the 55-minute long routes main car-ferry, Caledonian Isles.

The route opens up interesting travel options to explore southern Scotland and where a round trip could include a stopover to Brodick on the Isle of Arann, affectionately known as the 'Scotland in miniature'. This can be achieved as the summer-only service will (only on Saturdays) sail from the direction of Campeltown to call via Brodick, Isle of Arann before arriving in Ardrossan.

Or if time restricted, a round-trip excursion from Ardrossan to Brodick where the summer schedule is to be increased in frequency up to September.

The nearest port to Ardrossan in Ayrshire, for those travelling across from Northern Ireland is Troon where P&O Ferries 'Express' seasonal-only fast-ferry service from Larne reopened last month.

Alternatively there are conventional ferry services also running from Larne to Cairnryan with the same operator or Stena Line's 'Superfast' ferry sailings from Belfast to Cairnryan.

In addition there is a third option, Kintyre Express 'foot'-passenger only Ballyscastle-Campeltown route operated by high-speed RIB craft. The passenger-only service would at least permit a circular route tour in either direction to encompass the Glens of Antrim, Mull of Kintyre, Forth of Clyde options and Dumfries & Galloway.

If going clockwise, Ballycastle which also has the ferry service to Rathlin Island, would involve firstly crossing to the Mull of Kintyre and then to Ardrossan, unless taking the Saturday-only sailing as mentioned to Isle of Arann as an added attraction.

Finally the last leg of the circuit would be to take a North Channel ferry from Cairnryan to either Larne or arrive in Belfast Lough.


Published in Ferry

#NewFerryRoute – Caledonian MacBrayne's first season running the new route linking Campbeltown (Mull of Kintyre) and Ardrossan (Firth of Clyde) is to end sailings within a fortnight, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported the Campeltown-Ardrossan route began operating in May.  On (Saturdays only) the service includes an en-route call via Brodick on the Isle of Arann. This is Caledonian MacBrayne's (CalMac) first new route in nearly 20 years.

The thrice weekly operated service which is running on pilot basis and ends on Sunday 29 September. The new route was to encourage boosting tourism and trade opportunities throughout the regions of Kintyre and Argyl.

Serving the crossings is the 3,296 tonnes Isle of Arran, a veteran of the ferry company fleet built in 1984 and which has a capacity for 659 passengers and 62 cars. For sailings timetable and more about the new route visit this link.

Caledonian MacBrayne have been named by the British Travel Awards (BTAs) as one of the shortlisted contenders for the following awards of 'Best Ferry Company' and 'Best Holiday Magazine'. This year's BTA awards gala dinner ceremony takes place on Thursday 31 October in London.


Published in Ferry

#NewFerryRoute – A new ferry route linking Campeltown on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula and Ardrossan on the Firth of Clyde via the Isle of Arann started last month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The introduction of the new service between Kintyre and Argyll is Caledonian MacBrayne's (CalMac) first new route in nearly 20 years.

The new service is to benefit both communities from a boost in tourism and trade opportunities according to Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Since the service started on 23 May, the route which is operating on a pilot basis to 28 September is running to three sailings weekly throughout the summer, with an en-route call to Brodick on the Isle of Arran on Saturday's.

The 3,296 tonnes Isle of Arran is running the new service and the veteran of the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet built in 1984 has a capacity for 659 passengers and 62 cars. For sailings timetable and more about the new route visit this link.

As previously reported on, Campeltown is also served by another operator, Kintyre Express which two years ago started a passenger-only service to Ballycastle, Co. Antrim.

The route is only 50km /30 miles long and uses RIB craft which take 1 hour 30 minutes to complete the passage.


Published in Ferry

#PORTS & SHIPPING- The general dry-cargo vessel, Red Duchess berthed at Ardrishaig on Scotland's west coast at Loch Fyne today, after completion of a voyage from Waterford, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 1969-built coaster rounded the Hook Head Lighthouse yesterday around noon, having departed Belview on Waterford Estuary. She is engaged on the Irish Sea timber trade, which have been the mainstay of the cruiser stern-vessel's career (see PHOTO).This feature maybe commonplace among yachting craft, yet it is an increasing rare feature, to be found on commercial ships these days.

Her builders were Bodewes Hoogezand Scheepswerf, Bergum of The Netherlands, though the veteran vessel received a modernisation programme in 1995. In addition to the 1,285grt Red Duchess, her fleetmate Red Baroness (1979/964grt) is also actively employed on the same trade.

Each vessel has a single 80m box-hold which can also handle coal, fertiliser, salt and stone. The UK flagged vessels are owned and managed by Coast Lines Shipping based in Midleton, Co. Cork which was established in 1981. For photos of the fleet and technical details, click HERE.

The name of the Irish shipping company revives the similarly named Coast Lines which was synonymous with the British & Irish Steam Packet Co. Ltd otherwise known as B+I Line. By 1917 the Coast Lines group operated seven Irish shipping companies and held all the shares in B+I Line.

The group also had a half interest in David MacBrayne, which was together acquired in the same year by Lord Kylsant's Royal Mail Steam Packet. It was during the Kylsant period that one of their vessels, the 696 ton Lochfyne served David MacBrayne. The Kylsant shipping empire collapsed and Coast Lines regained independence in 1935.

It is apt to have these historical associations as successors to David MacBrayne, now Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) are Scotland's largest island ferry network which includes the Loch Fyne ferry (PHOTO) route of Portavadie-Tarbert with the remote location of Ardrishaig further up the Loch.

By 1965 Coast Lines sold their British & Irish (including the associated City of Cork Co.) to the Irish Government and the remaining part of the company was purchased by P&O in 1971. This marked an end of era, with the names of several Irish Sea freight and ferry operators slipping away.

As for Coast Lines Shipping, which was established in 1981, both Red Duchess and Red Baroness are on a time charter arrangement with JST Services. The Ayr-based company provide an integrated shipping, handling and road haulage timber business in addition to the carriage of other cargoes.

Asides serving Ardrishaig, the red-hulled vessels call to their adopted homeport of Ayr, Campbeltown and Sandbank. In addition they call to Troon, where both coasters are registered (see PHOTO). From these ports they sail to Irish ports, in particular Derry, Youghal and Passage West, a privately-owned wharf in the centre of Cork Harbour.

Timber products can include logs, which are loaded by a grabber as depicted in this PHOTO taken at Passage West. The facility also deals in scrap-metal cargo, where a mounting pile is clearly evident on the quayside, awaiting to be disposed for export.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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