How to fix the ferry crisis?

We’ve long been aware of the potential of medium-speed catamarans to improve west-coast ferry services, and to do so very cost-effectively. Stuart Ballantyne is the Scottish ship designer behind the Pentalina who’s Australian company has delivered hundreds of such vessels to inter-island ferry companies the world over. He has now formed a partnership with the Campaign to Save Inchgreen Drydock and others, advocating for his catamaran ferry designs to be built on the Clyde.

To be successful in a highly competitive industry, shipyards often specialise in particular vessel types where they have a design advantage. Stuart Ballantyne’s catamaran designs are the world leaders in medium-speed catamarans (infact he invented the class), and he is offering those designs to Scotland. They could be built in quantity in Fergusons, and a revitalised Inchgreen and Govan drydocks. Not only would that give them a competitive design advantage, but it would enable an affordable renewal of the entire fleet around a vessel type that is ideally suited to our routes and ports.

FOLLOW THIS LINK to read about the Clyde Catamaran Group in more detail, or watch Stuart below talking about the concept.

3 thoughts on “How to fix the ferry crisis?

  1. Far too obvious,commonsensical and economically viable to appeal to Calmac/CMAL/Scottish Government because it won’t waste enough taxpayers’ money.

  2. The ideas are all well founded and explained. There is also an additional important part of the transport jigsaw missing. Transport is a system which is only as strong as its weakest link. At the moment the actual ferries are the visible incarnation of those weaknesses but lurking close behind is the physical infrastructure to support them, the ports! Most of the ports in Western Scotland are even older than the ferries and need significant disruptive modernisation if they are to support the current crop of CMAL monohulls. Look at what happened in Brodick where the pier was moved and a huge facility built costing 10’s of millions to support a ferry that is too big (it doesn’t actually exist yet). An equivalent facility is being built in Ardrossan requiring over a year of closure and the huge disruption that will cause.
    The smaller but more frequent catamarans proposal reduces the demand for this huge expenditure saving even more money than described. An additional benefit of more, smaller ferries is that they do not disgorge a high number of cars and passengers into an already restricted road system at one time instead spreading this over a longer period.
    This proposal needs to be taken seriously and hopefully the added benefit of additional jobs in Scotland will finally help see it brought to fruition

    1. Quite right Graham. One huge benefit of catamarans is that they are light, short and shallow – so they are ideally suited to our piers, many of which were designed for vessels much smaller than the behemoths now in use or planned. Craignure pier for example – built in the sixties and structurally still in good shape (but neglected around the edges). It’s too short for even the Isle of Mull to berth overnight reliably, and heavier ships like the Clansman have to berth cautiously. A catamaran of 60m length would carry just as many cars as the IOM, but because it’s lighter it would not stress the pier; and because it’s shorter it could over-night no problem. Meanwhile Uig, Lochmaddy, Tarbert, Brodick and Ardrossan all have to have millions spent on ‘improvements’ to accommodate the new breed of ferry-liners favoured by CMAL. Next up are Islay and Colonsay, which must be deepened and strengthened to enable their new boats to fit.. The construction companies are kept in work, but our ferry services seem to take 1 step forward and 2 back…

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