The first of four CalMac ferries being built in Turkey will be launched in March, ferry owner Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has announced.
The MV Isle of Islay, which is being built at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Yalova, will serve Islay and Jura and is set to be delivered in October 2024 after its launch on March 16.
Following the transit from Turkey, it will undergo crew familiarisation and local operational trials before it enters service.
An official naming ceremony will take place on Islay towards the end of the year, where community representatives and stakeholders will be invited to board and tour the vessel to celebrate its arrival before it officially joins the fleet.
The announcement comes as frustration amongst island communities continues over the ferry services.
Two vessels being built at Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, which are over budget, were due to launch this spring, but could face further delays.
It is estimated the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa vessels will accumulate a £360m price tag by completion, despite initial contracts having estimated a total of £97m.
The MV Isle of Islay’s Turkish-built sister vessel, Loch Indaal, is estimated to be ready by February 2025.
Both vessels will have capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars.
They will be followed by two vessels, which are currently unnamed, in June and October next year.
Jim Anderson, director of vessels at CMAL, said: “Work at the Cemre shipyard continues to progress well, with the project coming in on time and on budget. We look forward to witnessing the launch, which is a major milestone in the vessel’s construction.
“We look forward to celebrating with the community towards the end of the year, where the vessel will be officially given its name, MV Isle of Islay.”
Minister for transport, Fiona Hyslop, said: “I’m pleased that the MV Isle of Islay will be launched at the Cemre Shipyard in March. Delivering six new major vessels to serve Scotland’s ferry network by 2026 is a priority for this government and this is an important milestone as part of that commitment.
“Ahead of entering service later this year, I look forward to joining the community as we celebrate and officially name the new vessel. People will welcome a more resilient and modern ferry service for Islay and Jura, and further vessels will soon bring similar and highly anticipated improvements for island communities across Scotland.”
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