24/10/2015 Scotland
Clyde To Build Biggest Ships In Fourteen Years
Ferguson Marine Engineering wins vital order for largest ships since 2001

mv HEBRIDES, built at Port Glasgow was built in 2001
Clyde Shipbuilding Back to Life As New Order Confirmed ~
Ferguson Marine Engineering wins vital order for largest ships since 2001

It has recently been announced that Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd of Port Glasgow has been formally awarded a new contract to build two large passenger and car carrying ships for CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd), the vessel owning arm of the ferry group popularly known as CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne).

This order brings security to the newly formed shipbuilding company, recently bought by Scots engineering billionaire Jim McColl, who has invested energy and money into the former Ferguson Shipbuilders, cementing the Clyde's centuries old crown as the leader in the British isles for ship construction.

The shipyard is already working on the last of three innovative electric hybrid ferries and these new ships are also future-looking pioneers for Caledonian MacBrayne, using a combination of gas and oil engines to power them.

The significance of this order lies in the size of the vessels. Capable of carrying 1000 passengers and of 100 metres in length (328 feet), they are the biggest commercial ships ordered on the banks of the entire Clyde since 2001. At the time of the shipbuilders being announced as the preferred bidder, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister said:

“This is an excellent result for Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited and I am delighted to name them as preferred tenderer for the contract to build two new ferries, the largest commercial vessels to be built on the Clyde since 2001. Today’s announcement proves that Scottish shipbuilding can succeed in a competitive market, with the FMEL team submitting the highest quality bid that offered best value for money."

Mr McColl, the shipyard's owner is known to want to see the Clyde restored as a major European shipbuilding region again and his purchase of Ferguson's is widely recognised as a first step towards that objective, as he has been in talks with Peel Ports over the possible sale or lease of the massive dry dock at Inchgreen, further along the river from his current Port Glasgow yard. This would enable him to build ocean going vessels and propel the Clyde back into the market of world shipbuilding once more.

The Clyde is now home to all naval construction in the UK. All of the naval vessels for the British Royal Navy are built here (or part built in the case of the aircraft carriers) and Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd now stand as the last complete-build commercial shipbuilders in the entire country. Where once the Clyde mastered the entire world, at least nowadays its pre-eminence is settled at a UK level.

The new ships are designed to carry 127 cars or 16 HGV’s or a combination of and up to 1000 passengers.

From an efficiency and emissions perspective they are designed to operate on either marine diesel or LNG, where benefit will be gained by a marked reduction in CO2 and sulphur and nitreous oxides emissions.

The new ferries are earmarked for the Ardrossan-Brodick and the Uig Triangle routes, although the final decision on vessel deployment rests with the current operator, CalMac Ferries Ltd, and will be informed by further analysis of demand on all major routes. The vessels they replace will be cascaded throughout the network.