The Herald

‘Embarrassm­ent for SNP’ as two new ferries to be built in Turkey

- By Alison Meikle

A TURKISH shipyard has won a £105 million contract to build two new Calmac ferries for Islay.

Cemre Marin Endustri has been announced as the preferred bidder for the order against three other yards. The ships will increase vehicle and freight capacity by nearly 40 per cent.

The move was described as an “embarrassm­ent” for the SNP by the Scottish Conservati­ves.

The first vessel is expected to be delivered by October 2024 and will enter service following sea trials and crew familiaris­ation. The second vessel will follow in early 2025.

Scottish Government-controlled Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), which owns the nation’s ageing ferry fleet, had invited four overseas companies to bid for the contract to build the two vessels – and excluded Inverclyde shipbuilde­r Ferguson Marine.

The shipbuilde­r, which runs the last remaining shipyard on the lower Clyde, was nationalis­ed after it financiall­y collapsed in August 2019, amid soaring costs and delays to the constructi­on of two island ferries.

It came five years after tycoon

Jim Mccoll first rescued the yard when it went bust.

The new ferries announceme­nt comes as the delivery of MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which were due in the first half of 2018, was found to be between four and five years late, with costs doubling to more tha £200m.

Transport Scotland said the intention was to award the Islay ferries’ contract to the Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard after a 10-day standstill period.

Shadow transport minister Graham Simpson, said of the contract announceme­nt: “This is an embarrassm­ent for the SNP. Their government-run yard at Port Glasgow is in no fit state to be considered for this contract.

“The two ferries being built there are nowhere near finished.

“It would come as no surprise if the Turkish yard completed these very welcome new vessels for Islay before anything leaves Ferguson Marine.

“The award is good news for islanders.”

The successful initial bids were from Damen Shipyard in Romania, Remontowa Shipbuildi­ng in Poland, and Turkish shipyards Sefine Denizcilik Tersanecil­ik Turizm, and Cemre Marin Endustri.

It was confirmed Ferguson Marine embarked in a bid for the contract through the initial Pre-qualificat­ion Questionna­ire process but failed to make the shortlist.

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “These links are some of the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network and the new vessels will help to grow the island’s economy, as well as bring added resilience to the fleet.

“This underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to bringing in new ferries to support our island communitie­s.

“We look forward to continuing to work with key stakeholde­rs to develop programmes for major vessels and small vessels – investing at least £580 million as part of our Infrastruc­ture Investment Plan.”

CMAL said that each submission was rigorously assessed against “quality, technical and commercial criteria”, and the contract was expected to be awarded to the winning shipyard no later than the end of March. Jim Anderson, director of vessels at CMAL, said: “Identifyin­g a preferred bidder is a big step forward in the project to provide new vessels for Islay and Jura.

“All four shipyards submitted compelling bids, but with robust assessment of technical and financial criteria, Cemre Marin Endustri was the winner.

“We will now enter a 10-day standstill period before finalising the contract, at which point we will work closely with the yard to move on to the next stage of the procuremen­t.”

Robbie Drummond, managing director of Calmac, added: “We very much look forward to welcoming these two new vessels into the Calmac fleet.

“This will help us deliver a service we can all be proud of.

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