Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has said that all possible options need to be investigated to fill the islands ferry problems given the latest problems with the Loch Seaforth’s late return to service.  Mr MacNeil is also suggesting that another boat be built in Gdańsk for the fleet of CalMac vessels on the west coast of Scotland.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“There is a problem with the CalMac fleet on the west coast of Scotland.  The MV Loch Seaforth was built in Germany and launched 7 years ago and is currently out of service, having had numerous problems since coming into service. The newest boat previous to that MV Finlaggan launched 11 years ago, was built in Gdańsk in Poland.

“We need to get other boats in play sooner rather than later.  The problems on the Clyde are well documented, there are many promises but it seems that nobody in Transport Scotland, CMAL or CalMac are confident of when the Glen Sannox might arrive to ease the problems.

“The CalMac fleet is ageing and the Pentalina apparently requires work before it can even be trialled.  Perhaps given the number of boats that are going to be needed consideration should be given to going back to Gdańsk where the Finlaggan was built or to Flensburger in Germany.  Other boats will be required even if the Glen Sannox and Hull 802 are completed. 

“The Finlaggan cost in the region of £25 million in 2010 and it was suggested at the time that Gdańsk could have built another one for about 85% of that cost, having familiarised themselves with the job, however, I’m sure that is not the case today.  The Loch Seaforth was £42 million four years later, it was indeed a bigger boat but one way or another we are going to need quite a number of boats over the next few years.  

“Unfortunately, with the current problems we have we are probably going to need quite a few yards building and therefore it may be time to look to Poland or other ship building nations to provide the vessels we need.  We will need a number of vessels if we are going to prevent further summers of restricted capacity due to the ageing fleet and the problems this brings.

“There are a plethora of organisations involved in this between CalMac, CMAL and Transport Scotland but one way or another, we have to cut through that forest and get boats sailing on the west coast and that means that we should be using yards with a track record in building this kind of ship.”