Islay ferries to be built in Turkish shipyard
Two ferries to serve a Scottish island will be built in Turkey, dealing a further embarrassment to the SNP-Green Government.
State-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has named Cemre Marin Endustri as the preferred bidder for the £110 million contract.
The nationalised Ferguson Marine yard in Inverclyde yard was among 11 bidders for the order to replace the ships on the Argyll route.
But it failed to make the shortlist last September, leaving four yards based in Poland, Romania and Turkey to submit tenders.
Two ferries being built at the yard have been hit by delays and will cost more than double the £97m contract price originally agreed.
The government said the new Islay ferries will bring an almost 40% increase in vehicle and freight capacity to the route, a reduction in emissions and would improve the resilience of the wider fleet.
The first ferry is expected to be delivered by October 2024 and will enter service following sea trials and crew familiarisation. The second vessel will follow in early 2025.
The new ships will replace MV Hebridean Isles and allow another ferry, MV Finlaggan, to be redeployed to another route.
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said she was pleased to see CMAL name a preferred bidder.
She said: “These links are some of the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network and the new vessels will help to grow the island’s economy, as well as bring added resilience to the fleet.”
Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said it was an embarrassment that the government-run yard at Port Glasgow was “in no fit state to be considered for this contract”.
He said: “It would come as no surprise if the Turkish yard completed these very welcome new vessels for Islay before anything leaves Ferguson Marine.”
Alba Party Inverclyde Councillor Chris McEleny said: “That publicly owned Ferguson’s was previously excluded from bidding to build ferries that are owned by the Scottish Government and operated on behalf of the Scottish Government was outrageous.
“To now announce they will be built in Turkey without listing what the benefits will be to our local communities is a complete betrayal of the people that live and work here.”