Scottish Government buy £9m ferry for use on west coast

The MV Utne has been earmarked for use for the route between Mull and Oban.

Scottish Government buy £9m ferry for use on west coast iStock

The Scottish Government has purchased a £9m ferry for use on the west coast.

The MV Utne has been working in Norway since it was built in 2014 and has been earmarked for the route between Oban and Mull.

While the vessel was purchased by the national ferry procurer Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) for an undisclosed sum, Transport Scotland said the total including modifications is expected to be around £9m.

As a result of the purchase, Transport Scotland said there will be more capacity on other routes.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “I’m very pleased to announce that MV Utne has been purchased by CMAL to join the ferry fleet serving the Clyde and Hebrides network.

“We have always said we would look to the second-hand market for additional vessels to support our island communities, and this purchase is the result of this ongoing work.

“The Scottish Government has committed £580m to fund new ferries and port investments over the next five years.

“We continue to work with CMAL and CalMac to develop potential programmes that will deliver additional improvements to the network.”

The boat will come into government hands at the end of this month, with modifications expected early next year and deployment hoping to be ahead of the summer season, following training for CalMac staff.

CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond said: “The addition of the MV Utne to the CalMac fleet is extremely welcome and will bring much-needed resilience to the network.

“We will continue to work closely with Transport Scotland and CMAL to determine how best MV Utne can support our delivery of lifeline services.”

Two other west coast ferries are also set to be finished next year, after years of delays and costing more than double the original price tag.

The two ships, 801 and 802, were found to be massively behind schedule by former finance secretary Derek Mackay, who told MSPs in December 2019 it could cost an extra £98.8m to finish the construction.

The extra cost has now ballooned to more than £110m – more than double the initial price of £97m.

Already behind schedule at that point – the ships were due to enter service during 2018 – it is now estimated that one will be finished between July and September next year, with the other completed between April and July.

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