Our efforts to get the catamaran on offer to CMAL properly considered have reached an impasse. CMAL have not responded to the sale offer sent to them in December, and Transport Scotland say this is because they lack confidence that the ferry will pass safety assessments by the MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the organisation that enforces marine safety legislation).
The designers (Sea Transport Solutions of Australia) insist that it will pass MCA approval, following minor modifications. In order to be assessed by the MCA however, both buyer and seller need to have agreed general terms of sale, and to work together on a plan of modifications that will satisfy both the MCA in terms of safety, and CalMac in terms of operation. STS have drawn up a general scheme of modifications that they believe will satisfy both the MCA and CalMac – but until CMAL engage in negotiating the purchase, there is no way of properly assessing them.
As things stand therefore, it looks likely that this opportunity to improve our ferry service will be lost, before it has even got to the stage of being formally assessed by the MCA. We are determined that we cannot let that happen.
For more information, including pdfs that outline the benefits of a catamaran visit our website here. Recently added is a vessel options appraisal that lays out the pros and cons of the Craignure-Oban vessel choices for the next ten years – the catamaran is clearly the best option both in terms of value-for-money and service benefit.
Argyll and Bute Council look set to follow the recommendations of their consultants, and not extend the current Craignure pier. This means that the only ferries that can work our route are the MV Isle of Mull and the MV Coruisk until the pier is completely replaced. That is another ten years with no island focussed timetable, another ten years of summer congestion, another ten years of worsening winter reliability.
THE ONLY OTHER OPTION ON THE TABLE IS THIS CATAMARAN.
We have worked tirelessly to keep the catamaran in consideration, but without Scottish Government’s willingness to commit modest sums to the formal MCA process (MCA approval costs £45,000 + other expenses), then the only option is for us to commission the studies that the MCA will need.
We have discussed our options with Strathclyde University Department of Naval Architecture. They are entirely independent and highly capable. They have proposed a series of technical analyses that would address the key questions that the MCA would have. The output from this work would answer the question ‘will it pass the MCA?’, and would do so without committing to the full cost of MCA plan approval.
The sellers of the catamaran have agreed to pay half the cost of Strathclyde Uni’s work, if we can pay the other half. For the key reports therefore, we need to raise £8,000 to cover our share (and other minor costs).
This is the only chance we have of advancing the catamaran. Our objective is to demonstrate to Transport Scotland that it will pass the MCA, and how. We hope this will give government the confidence it needs to go ahead and negotiate a purchase.
There is no guarantee that these studies will give us the answer we hope for – if it was a forgone conclusion, there would be no need for them. However, the designers are confident of passing the MCA, and there is some reason to share that confidence – Pentland Ferries’ MV Pentalina was designed to similar standards, and was granted MCA approval to operate across the Pentland Firth to Orkney.
If we are successful, the advantages gained will be huge. We cannot let this opportunity pass. It could enable a transformation of our ferry timetable, and relieve our summer congestion (in a normal ‘non-Covid’ year!). We are therefore looking for your help, and your money! Below is a link to our Crowdfunder appeal. Please give whatever you can – every little helps.
We have to be quick however. Time is running out. Parliament will dissolve in a matter of weeks, and there is no guarantee that when we have a new government in May, that this ferry will still be for sale. Strathclyde Uni’s studies have already begun, thanks to STS’ promise of half the funds – but they cannot complete unless we can produce the other half. PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW AND DONATE TODAY! THANK YOU!!