New ferry could face delay

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The new Stornoway-Ullapool ferry could be delayed even further as the shipyard where it is being built is facing financial difficulties.

The ship is being built at the Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft (FSG) yard in Germany which is now the subject of an acquisition.

It is understood that MV Loch Seaforth is nearing completion but final internal fittings are still to be undertaken.

No date for the ship’s handover is available, said Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) – the Scottish Government company which owns the ships which provide ferry services to the islands.

A CMAL spokesperson said: “Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft MBH and Co KG shipyard (FSG) is currently the subject of an acquisition that is due to complete later this month.

“However the work on the MV Loch Seaforth is nearing completion and is not expected to be impacted.

“A team from CMAL is in Germany overseeing the final elements of the build and are currently in discussions with FSG on the handover of the vessel.

“The date will be confirmed as soon as it is available later this month.”

The Loch Seaforth is designed to have a capacity for up to 700 passengers and 143 cars or 20 commercial vehicles though the actual number of vehicles which can be carried in practice is still being worked out.

Western Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil is writing to Transport Minister Keith Brown on the issue.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “This announcement is obviously a concern and I am writing to Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP to ask him to clarify exactly what this means for the islands.

“The handover of the MV Loch Seaforth has been delayed since September and it is concerning that we may be facing further delays.”