FERRY STORY: Contract award is an important milestone in the new vessel project

By Lucy Ashton

A £155,000 contract for design concepts of new ferries for Kilcreggan, Dunoon and Gourock has been awarded to BMT, it was announced today.

Three new sister vessels expected to cost £5m apiece are planned to replace the Chieftain, pictured above,  Ali Cat and Argyll Flier.

The new boats are expected to be 40 metres long and Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) admits they will be ‘over spec’ for Kilcreggan.

Argyll and Bute Council is planning to spend £1.2m on pontoons or linkspans to accommodate the new ferry in Kilcreggan, putting the future of the village’s historic pier in doubt.

The contract is part of the Gourock Harbour Infrastructure and Vessels Project, a partnership between Transport Scotland, CMAL, CalMac and the council.

It covers the redevelopment of Gourock ferry terminal – now behind schedule – and works to the harbour infrastructures at Dunoon and Kilcreggan, as well as the new passenger-only boats.

Gourock and Dunoon residents took part in a survey before the project, while Cowal councillors have had regular briefings and the chance to ask questions.

But there has been no equivalent opportunity for the public or politicians on the Rosneath Peninsula, with a local councillor raising ‘serious concerns’ about the issue.

A CMAL statement today said there was ‘a strong focus on reducing the environmental footprint’ with the aim of making the new boats more sustainable as well as safe and reliable.

Andy Crossan, senior technical manager and projects director at CMAL, said: “BMT has a strong track record of advanced vessel design, knowledge and experience, and has a thorough understanding of the challenges and the opportunities offered by the port infrastructure redevelopment.

“The contract award is an important milestone in the new vessel project, which will provide much-needed investment in the ferry service for the local community and the overall vessel fleet.”

Sylvain Julien, director at BMT, said: “BMT is committed to leading the way in designing vessels that lower the environmental impact, and we welcome the opportunity to work with CMAL to work towards increased sustainability by leveraging our deep understanding of advanced ferry design and operation.”

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