GERMAN ship design consultants have been handed £360,000 to help with the concept for a batch of seven ferries to replace ageing CalMac vessels and try to provide better and greener lifeline services for Scotland’s islands.
Flensburg-based Navalue, which was formed two years ago, has been brought in to help provide planning direction for a project to create several small vehicle and passengers vessels to replace some of the country’s oldest vessels on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network.
Scottish Government-controlled lifeline ferry owners Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) is to investigate the feasibility of designing low emission ferries which are due to be introduced over the next ten years.
It comes after a summer of issues with breakdowns involving Scotland’s ageing ferry fleet.
The firm’s lead naval architect led on the design of Scotland’s biggest publicly-run ferry MV Loch Seaforth, which operates on the Stornoway to Ullapool route.
Carsten Ortloff, was the chief ferry designer with Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG), the shipyard in the Baltic port of Flensburg which won the contract to build the ferry. He is now a partner with Navalue and his CV described him as having more than 18 years of combined ship design and shipbuilding experience and a total of 14 ships being built or under construction.
Eight-year-old Loch Seaforth’s port engine failure breakdown in April led to disruption across the islands network for seven weeks, was described as a “national scandal” and was one of a series of problems with Scotland lifeline vessel network.
It led to the ferry operator CalMac chartering another vessel, the MV Arrow to help relieve pressure on freight services between state-owned ferry operator CalMac’s Stornoway to Ullapool crossing.
All of the vessels being replaced are among the 16 of CalMac’s 31 working ferries deployed across Scotland that are now over 25 years old.
After 1973, when the Caledonian Steam Packet Co. acquired most of the ferries and routes and began joint Clyde and West Highland operations under the new name of Caledonian MacBrayne, the official expected life of a ferry had been 20 years.
That is until 2002, three years after the 1999 devolution when the then Scottish Government-owned Caledonian MacBrayne which then owned the fleet and procured vessels, extended the ‘working life’ from 20 years to 25 years.
The new vessels would replace 35-year-old MV Loch Striven on the Oban to Lismore route, 35-year-old MV Loch Riddon on Largs to Cumbrae, 34-year-old MV Loch Ranza on Tayinloan to Gigha, 30-year-old MV Loch Dunvegan on Colintraive to Rhubodach, 30-year-old MV Loch Fyne on Mallaig to Armadale, 29-year-old MV Loch Tarbert on Tobermory to Kilchoan and 35-year-old MV Loch Linnhe, the relief vessel.
CMAL said that Navalue will provide “consultancy services” for the concept design stage of the programme and will help evaluate the feasibility of designing low emission ferries to be in line with the Scottish Government climate change commitments.
The Emissions Reduction Targets (Scotland) Act 2019 states a 2030 target to deliver a reduction of 75% of all harmful emissions, and an ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
CMAL said: “Studies and design experience will be drawn on to explore the latest offshore charging technologies and identify onboard electrical energy storage systems, capable of being recharged from shore side electrical power supplies.”
The feasibility studies will establish which ports within the small vessel network have the ability to install the necessary power and equipment to charge the vessels and or accommodate energy storage systems and the cost of these upgrades.
Jim Anderson, director of vessels with CMAL said: “CMAL led the way in low emission small ferries when we designed the world’s first hybrid sea-going ferries, with three hybrid vessels currently in operation on the network.
“Our aim is to ensure the next generation of small vessels is as environmentally friendly as possible by adopting further advances in battery technology and electrifying our fleet. Navalue will provide insight and expert knowledge as we embark on our highly ambitious and much-needed vessel renewal programme.”
CMAL said the programme will “take note” of lessons learned from other vessel delivery projects.
Scotland’s lifeline ferry fiasco features MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 which are still languishing in the now state-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard, with costs of their construction more than doubling from the original £97m contract, while their delivery is over four years late.
Thomas Ritte, Partner at Navalue said: “We are strongly committed to providing innovative, reliable and efficient ship design solutions for sustainable shipping. We are pleased to bring our experience in developing zero-emission transportation solutions to the CMAL small vessel replacement programme and look forward to working with CMAL in their goal towards lower emission vessels.”
CMAL said the programme will consult with communities to provide updates and “ensure the needs of users are reflected where practical and affordable in the design and construction phases”.