DESIGN work has been commissioned for a new passenger ferry to serve on the Gourock, Dunoon and Kilcreggan routes.

Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL) has awarded a contract to BMT, an international design and engineering firm, to provide consultancy services for a vessel concept design.

The new ferry will ultimately replace the vessels currently operated by CalMac on the routes.

The contract award comes after the ferry procurement process was heavily criticised in a report by MSPs on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, who examined the fallout from the order by CMAL of two ferries from the now nationalised Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde. That work has run drastically over time and budget.

The £155,000 contract awarded to BMT is part of the Gourock Harbour Infrastructure & Vessels Project, a partnership between Transport Scotland, CMAL, CalMac and Argyll and Bute Council.  It covers the redevelopment of Gourock Ferry Terminal and works to the harbour infrastructures at Dunoon and Kilcreggan, as well as the delivery of new passenger-only vessels. 

CMAL, the public infrastructure body which owns harbours and the ferries that operate on Scotland’s west coast, and BMT will investigate and evaluate the application of energy efficiency solutions to make the new vessel design more sustainable, while offering the level of safety and reliability expected from a lifeline service, a statement said.

Andy Crossan, senior technical manager and projects director at CMAL, said: “BMT has a strong track record of advanced vessel design, knowledge and experience, and has a thorough understanding of the challenges and the opportunities offered by the port infrastructure redevelopment. The contract award is an important milestone in the new vessel project, which will provide much-needed investment in the ferry service for the local community and the overall vessel fleet.”

Sylvain Julien, director at BMT, said: “BMT is committed to leading the way in designing vessels that lower the environmental impact, and we welcome the opportunity to work with CMAL to work towards increased sustainability by leveraging our deep understanding of advanced ferry design and operation.”