New ferry to launch in six months

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MV Loch Seaforth – the new Stornoway-Ullapool ferry - will launch in just six months with fabrication of the vessel due to start in Germany in September.

The design is now finalised and a steel cutting ceremony will take place at Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft MBH and Co KG shipyard in Flensburg, Germany on September 16th with the ferry due to launch in February 2014.

A spokesperson for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), who will lease the vessel to the ferry operator, said: “Following input from various experts and interested parties, a number of changes have been made during the detailed design phase to enhance the passenger experience and/or improve the operability of the vessel. 

“With respect to the engine installation, the tender specification was for a diesel electric type installation with four engines.  CMAL has opted for a system with five engines that allows the propulsion to be by direct drive diesels or by diesel electric propulsion mode.  This change allows for enhanced redundancy, increased speed, improved efficiency and reduced emissions.”

Meanwhile the arrival of the new ferry cannot come soon enough for many people frustrated by problems with MV Isle of Lewis. Last Saturday the ferry had to return to Ullapool after a technical problem was experienced in the first half of the journey.

A spokesperson for Calmac explained: “The starboard main engine of the Isle of Lewis developed a significant air leakage on a rubber bellows connecting two sections of pipeline used to supply combustion air to the engine.  There was no danger to the vessel or her passengers but to ensure 100% availability of the propulsion plant it was decided to return to port to renew the bellows using a spare carried onboard the vessel.”

Calmac are currently in negotiations regarding freight cover on the Stornoway-Ullapool route when MV Muirneag is removed from service later this year.

No date has been set for the departure of the vessel but she has been put up for sale by owners VShips.

The Calmac spokesperson added: “Negotiations on a dedicated replacement freight vessel are well advanced and we’re aiming for a seamless transition with the Muirneag’s departure. The date is to be confirmed.