Overwhelming island support for catamaran.

The Ferry Committee proposal to buy a catamaran for the Craignure-Oban service has received overwhelming support from both Iona and Mull Community Councils, MICT, SWMID, VMI, NWMCW, all four of our local authority councillors and our MSP Michael Russell. Together with countless messages of support from individuals across Mull and Iona, this has given us the backing needed to press Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse to make a decision before it’s too late.

The sale offer for the catamaran is on the desk of CMAL’s CEO. The sellers have outlined how they could modify the vessel to suit both CalMac and the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency – they are responsible for ensuring the vessel meets safety requirements).

Everything is therefore in place for CMAL and Government to make a decision:

  • CalMac desperately need new vessels for their ageing and over-stretched fleet – this is acknowledged by everyone, including CMAL, government, and also the recent parliamentary enquiry into ferry procurement.
  • Government have repeated their intention to buy on the open market if a suitable vessel is available.
  • The case that Mull should be the recipient of a new vessel is clear – it would transform our service, and relieve the most congested route in the CalMac network.
  • We have found a very suitable and easily modified vessel, currently in-build and available for purchase now at an excellent price.

The sellers are ready and waiting to begin work on designing the modifications needed to suit CalMac, our piers, and the MCA. They cannot proceed with that until CMAL make a formal commitment. In order to make that commitment as easy as possible for CMAL, the sellers have offered to make the sale subject to:

  • Design approval by the MCA – if they don’t achieve design approval, there will be no sale.
  • Budget approval by government – if government don’t approve the funds, there will be no sale.

The second of those conditions is particularly generous, and is intended to enable CMAL and Transport Scotland to make a decision before the vessel is completed.

We have therefore written to the Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse making it clear that a decision is needed, and that he should now instruct CMAL to purchase the vessel.

Radio Scotland covered the story on Good Morning Scotland today (30/12/20 at about 06:50 am if you want to listen again)

Below you can see the latest images from the shipyard of the vessel in progress. If you have any questions or views on the ferry, don’t hesitate to get in touch by email.

The ship is being built entirely under cover and is almost complete structurally. You can see here that the hulls are steel, and the upper superstructure is aluminium.
From the bow looking down the car deck. To the right is a fixed mezzanine car deck – this is where crew accommodation can be added, to suit CalMac’s preference for live-aboard crewing.
Passenger accommodation
Car deck.
Outside passenger deck.

9 thoughts on “Overwhelming island support for catamaran.

  1. This is incredibly exciting news indeed. Wow what a result from our communities. Now, please Mr Paul Wheelhouse do not procrastinate for a moment. It is imperative you act timeosly. Again Joe Reade and all your colleagues who have continued to work tirelessly on this matter. This would be the shining light in a very dark year. 😀😀

  2. Raxacorico Fallapatorius 30th December 2020 — 5:08 pm

    I’ve just e-mailed Paul Wheelhouse, asking him to support this proposal, perhaps we all should.

    1. Good evening. By all accounts now is the time to strike whole the iron is hot. Please do so without delay.

    2. Excellent! we would definitely encourage individuals to email the minister. Send to MinisterECI@gov.scot .

  3. If the powers that be won’t buy it then the people of Mull should purchase it and lease to CalMac.

    1. Indeed! Financing a vessel like this would be the easy part, either locally or with outside finance or a combination. But at the moment the ferry system is a ‘walled garden’, and we have to persuade the current gardeners to use better tools.

  4. Great idea. I don’t know if it’s possible but why not try to go down a private route of purchase and running without the constraints and bureaucracy of calmac and the government, we’ve seen how successful they are with the other new ferries if they ever make it into service. They could be run at a lower cost with local crew and not tied to calmac.

    1. That kind of idea has been seriously explored by many people, both on Mull and other islands in the past. It isn’t a viable option for Mull right now given the contractual set-up of the ferry network, but it may be in the future. So we have to do our best to persuade those responsible to make the best decisions. Buying this catamaran would be a good start!

  5. What Mull and Iona need are tunnels connecting them too the mainland. If you look at the Faeroe Islands and Norway they’re replacing all ferries with tunnels wherever they can because it is seen as a very progressive step for communities and saves so much money compared to the long term costs of ferries.

    There seems to be a very strong ferry lobby in Scotland that prevents tunnels being built, people with vested interests in ferries allegedly exert political pressure in the background to stop the construction of tunnels.

    People in authority have been know to allegedly lie about the the cost of tunnels, saying that they will cost much more than they actually will so that it makes ferries look just an economical option as tunnels. Norwegian/Faeroese tunnels average out at £5-10m per kilometre, it’s a no brainier to have them in Scotland but tunnelphobia prevents it.

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