<< UPDATED – see end>>
The Loch Frisa has completed her preparations and modifications in Leith, and is now on her way to Mull. It will take several days for her to traverse the coast of Scotland at 10 knots, but she’s expected to arrive during the course of the week.
The Coruisk will not leave for Mallaig immediately – for a short period whilst the vessel is tested and crew and shore staff become familiarised, both vessels will work the route. Once settled in, the Coruisk will leave for Mallaig.
The impact on our summer service is negative. The Loch Frisa is slower than the Coruisk, and has between 6 and 8 fewer car spaces (time and the carrying stats will show us precisely what the reduction is). Like the Coruisk, all foot passenger access will be via the car deck.
Our hopes for the winter are higher however – unlike the Coruisk she will operate year-round and should add services to the beginning and end of the day. As yet however CalMac have been unable to share a draft winter timetable. We hope to have that in the coming weeks.
<<< UPDATE – The following press release was received a few hours after publishing this post>>>
CalMac has today announced that subject to successful trials, MV Loch Frisa will enter service on the Oban-Craignure route in mid-June.
The vessel has departed Leith today, and is positioning to Oban where it will undertake detailed familiarisation and entry-in-to service activities.
The vessel will then progressively be phased into the Oban-Craignure timetable, in tandem with MV Coruisk, while MV Isle of Mull will continue to operate its normal timetable. Once MV Loch Frisa takes over the full MV Coruisk timetable, MV Coruisk will reposition to Mallaig where it will deliver services on the Mallaig – Armadale route.
Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said: “We are looking forward to adding MV Loch Frisa to the CalMac fleet and would like to thank Transport Scotland and CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd) for their efforts in securing an additional vessel. Its arrival will allow us to move MV Coruisk to Mallaig, where she will take up service on the Mallaig-Armadale route.”
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see the MV Loch Frisa join the CalMac ferry fleet and I look forward to making the journey to Mull in her capable hands in the near future.
“The purchase and deployment of the Loch Frisa is an example of the Government working to support second hand tonnage for island communities. I’m sure it will be welcomed by local residents and visitors to Mull, but I know there is more to do.
“The Government recognises that having confidence in ferry services is vital for those who live and work on the islands and that’s why we have committed £580 million to fund new ferries and port investments over five years. We will continue to work with CMAL and CalMac in the meantime to secure much needed additional improvements for our island communities”.