CalMac doubles winter maintenance budget

Want to read more?

We value our content and our journalists, so to get full access to all your local news updated 7-days-a-week – PLUS an e-edition of the Arran Banner – subscribe today for as little as 48 pence per week.

Already a subscriber?


Subscribe Now

By Colin Smeeton

Ferry operator CalMac has doubled the amount that it spent last year during this year’s winter maintenance programme.

With a record investment of more than £9 million allocated for the fleet, it is hoped that the expanded overhaul programme will help keep every vessel in ship shape condition and ready for another year of supporting communities across the west coast.

Both ferries which serve Arran are being given a major overhaul, with the MV Caledonian Isles undergoing its annual refit, as usual in January, at Greenock.

As well as normal MOT type servicing for vessel there will also be work to upgrade alarm and monitoring system, new generators, additional anemometer for measuring windspeed and replacement roll on roll off cylinders. Works will also include CCTV systems, passenger doors, replacement reclining seats and new air compressors.

The MV Isle of Arran has been fitted with new alarm and monitoring system, draught measuring system, air handling unit, fire detection system, load sharing generator, hydrophore pumps and new bow thruster units along with circuit breaker replacement and new air compressors.

‘Trying to ensure that every vessel gets the proper levels of maintenance and upgrades, while keeping lifeline ferry services running is an extremely complex operation,’ said CalMac’s director of asset management, Julie Philpott.

‘Not all vessels are suitable for every route and harbour, meaning the matrix we need to design to ensure service continuity is long in the planning.’

‘We try where we can, within the resources available to us, to provide as seamless a service as possible during this period, matching suitable vessels to cover routes. But getting every vessel in for maintenance requires us to do a certain amount of manoeuvring. We try and keep inconvenience to a minimum and hope the travelling public can understand why we have to make the vessel changes that we do at this time of year.’

‘For those not involved in the refit process the sheer scale of the tasks involved is hard to picture. Last year we fitted more then 11km of electrical cable and this year new CCTV networks and pitch control systems alone will see 18km of new cable installed,’ said Julie.

Work on the vessels is carried out at yards in Greenock, Troon, Liverpool, Ardmaliesh, Leith and Aberdeen.

  • An expected announcement on the timetable for the delivery of the MV Glen Sannox was scuppered at Holyrood this week by Purdah rules surrounding the general election which means there can be no statements on financial matters until after December 12.


The MV Caledonian Isles docks in Brodick. 01_B18caley01