A catamaran for Mull?

In this section we will cover our efforts to renew our ageing main vessel the MV Isle of Mull, with replacements that are best suited to the route and users. Our current focus is the purchase of a catamaran being built in Indonesia and available to purchase. We believe it offers massive benefits for our service. We are trying to convince CMAL and Transport Scotland to investigate it fully, and buy it for the Craignure-Oban service.


Thanks to everyone who donated to our Crowdfunder, we have been able to commission the independent naval architect’s study into the catamaran – and it passes with flying colours. This deals with the central objection to purchasing the cat, and answers all the doubts raised by CMAL and Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse. You can download the full report below, as well as our accompanying letter to the Islands Minister. The conclusion of the report reads:

• Evaluation of vessel damage stability in line with MSC.421(98) (SOLAS 2020) and Directive 200/25/EC has shown the vessel design to possess unprecedented high degree of survivability.
• That notwithstanding, some modifications are required within the vessel subdivision to ensure compliance, namely the addition of four buoyancy tanks and the relocation of a small group of openings, enabling unrestricted service (Hs=4m).
• Given the above, full compliance can be achieved without need for any exemptions.
• Further areas in which the vessel design requiring modification have been identified in relation to life-saving appliances, means of escape, electrical installations, and crew accommodation provisions.
• However, in each instance, a practical and workable solution has been identified, without the need for major modifications. Indeed, it is the nature of ship design and construction that such changes need be made.
• Generally speaking, it has been found that the vessel is of sound design and, given its current stage of construction, the modifications that are required could be implemented with much greater ease that in the case of retrofitting an existing design.
• On the basis of the calculations performed and the modifications proposed, the vessel demonstrates compliance with all pertinent regulations whilst addressing all point raised by MCA and CMAL.
• In terms of regulatory compliance, we conclude that this vessel has unprecedented high level of survivability whilst adhering to all pertinent safety regulations following the recommended minor modifications.
• In conclusion, we find the vessel suitable for the intended service from any which aspect that has been raised by MCA and CMAL, in most cases with ample margin.


Transport Scotland ‘lack sufficient confidence’ that the catamaran on offer will gain approval from the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), and so they will not negotiate a purchase. On the other side, the sellers insist that it can pass the MCA, but the only way to ultimately find out is put it through formal assessment.

We want to break this impasse by commissioning independent analyses of the type the MCA will need to see. Strathclyde University Department of Naval Architecture have begun this work, with the promise of half of the cost being paid by the sellers. We need to raise the other half – and quickly! The ferry will soon be completed, and if Scottish Government cannot be persuaded to act soon, the vessel will be sold elsewhere. Please donate if you can – every pound counts. THANK YOU!

Download below our report on the potential catamaran opportunity of 2020:

Download our vessel options appraisal below. This weighs up the vessel deployment options available to CalMac until Craignure Pier is replaced – the catamaran is clearly the best option, both in terms of value-for-money and service benefit. Take a look –

Below is a slideshow of images of the catamaran under construction:

Below we have videos of our webinar of November 5th 2020. In this webinar we lay out the advantages of medium-speed catamarans in general, and the specific benefits that one could bring to the Oban-Craignure route. In the summer of 2020 we became aware of a suitable catamaran available on the used market, and in the videos below we lay out the opportunity it may offer us.

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