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CalMac this week defended their decision to award a £25 million maintenance contract to Cammell Laird in Liverpool.
The ferry operator has used the English yard for many years but there was criticism in the Herald newspaper this week that the work had gone south rather than to the Aberdeen-headquartered Dales Marine who have operations in the Garvel Dry Dock in Greenock, impacting on jobs potential in the deprived area.
The newspaper also claimed that the Arran ferries, the Caledonian Isles and the Isle of Arran were part of the contract but this was refuted by CalMac who said the work only covers the Western Isles ferries – the Clansman, Loch Seaforth, Lord of the Isles, Finlaggan and Hebrides. No contract has yet been awarded for the Caledonian Isles refit next January or the Isle of Arran refit, as the tender for those vessels is still being evaluated.
CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond said: ‘CalMac has an obligation to put contracts out to tender so that the process is as fair and transparent as possible. A range of factors, including value for money and efficiency, are always taken into account before bids are awarded.
‘We operate a lifeline service across the Western Isles and it is vital that passengers receive the highest standard of service possible. This includes making sure that vessels are maintained to a high standard and that the likelihood of breakdowns are reduced.’
It was the second ferry story in two days after the Herald on Sunday claimed that ferry users had joined forces to condemn the design of the nation’s lifeline ferries saying they are too big for the islands they serve and are overburdening the taxpayer.
The paper said there were growing calls for a shake-up over over the ferry procurement decision making involving the nation’s ferries which some feel led to the country’s ferry building fiasco surrounding the MV Glen Sannox and her sister ship Hull 102, still under construction at the Ferguson yard in Port Glasgow and not now due into service on the Arrran route until the spring of 2022.
They said there has been criticism that the process, involving a ‘closed group’ of Scottish government-controlled bodies – Transport Scotland as funders, the procuring and ferry owning company, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), and ferry operators CalMac.
- CMAL aware of need to invest, see letters page.