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.