CHIEF executive Kevin Hobbs makes a number of assertions to undermine those who challenge the infallibility of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) and outlines his ambitions with regard to the fleet renewal programme ("Hobbs has the appetite to tackle CMAL’S detractors", The Herald, May 31).

CMAL's own information regarding the fleet gives a clearer picture of its alleged competence: five vessels brought into service since 2007; more than 60 per cent of the fleet more than 20 years old, and the three oldest vessels have a combined age of 141 years. At the current delivery rate, fleet renewal will take 80-plus years.

In addition, the operating subsidy from 2015 to 2020 amounted to £723 million and is expected to rise by around 12-14% annually.

The report on the current Ferguson debacle intimates that Ferguson was the most expensive tender, had new non-shipbuilding owners and possessed no experience in delivering complex dual-fuelled vessels,

Overall, we get a true picture of the level of CMAL management competence in decision making.

Mr Hobbs asserts the need for more money even though £550 million over five years has been granted for fleet renewal as well as additional funds for upgraded pier improvements to accommodate the new vessels. One could argue that his current comments are a pre-emptive endeavour to shift blame for non-delivery of vessels in the future to a lack of funds rather than an intransigence to explore more efficient ferry arrangements.

In 2008, the Scottish Government invited Stuart Ballantyne, a Scot/Australian to present information regarding catamarans. His company Sea Transport has designed and delivered more than 120 vessels in the last 15 years to more than 47 countries at a fraction of the capital cost misspent by CMAL.

His advice and expertise was dismissed. We, as taxpayers, are left to provide a bottomless pit of money to these organisations – CMAL and Calmac – who remain deaf to any advice or criticism.

John M Lamont, Isle of Arran.

* WHEN I read Kevin Hobbs's statement that "the narrative has been that there is an ageing fleet, and I don't think we would deny that", I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It may be true about some of the fleet but certainly not the Loch Seaforth; she is only six years old, not even middle-aged for a ship.

I sailed on the Stirling Castle in the 1960s. She was nearly 30 years old and could still do her designed speed of 21 knots. I'll admit the engine room was not a bed of roses, and that once we left Southampton on only one engine. But that problem was soon solved and we arrived in Cape Town on schedule. Not only did she do the Cape run all those years, she spent the war running troops all over the world, always running at full ahead to avoid U-Boats.

The difference seems to be that the Stirling Castle was designed, built, owned, maintained and operated by competent personnel. Somewhere in CMAL and Calmac this competence has been lost. I would also add a slide rule was the most sophisticated bit of kit available in the 1930s.

To add insult to injury the PR handout from Calmac issued on the Loch Seaforth's inauguration in 2015 stated: "Three backup diesel generators would allow her to operate to timetable even with one main engine out of service". What happened since? I'd file that statement under Fiction.

George Smith, Clydebank.


ONCE again the right-hand side of your Letters Pages (June 1) is filled with convincing concerns about the inability in the future of renewables being able to supply the country’s energy needs 24/7 in the absence of the current backup of nuclear and/or gas or coal-fired generation. The contribution from Scottish Renewables policy director Morag Watson (Letters, May 31) is criticised as disingenuous, even misleading, and is anything but reassuring. It begs the question: if the intention is to rely on renewables are we in danger of sleepwalking towards an age of regular blackouts, or are we to rely on users having to pay for importing expensive electricity generated presumably from the sources we have abandoned?

Surely these concerns are so serious that it is time for a public inquiry into the extent the Scottish Government intends how the county’s future energy needs can reasonably be expected to be met, particularly when renewables inevitably cannot meet the demand?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


ALLAN McDougall (Letters, June 1) sees wind turbines spinning, intermittently, as non-polluting, but consideration of the whole truth tells a very different story which is not at all "green".

Their manufacture, overseas, and installation not only release much CO2 but demand lithium and rare earths from a near monopoly under Chinese control, using labour by youngsters working in a filthy, hazardous environment.

In operation, they depend on large amounts of oil for lubrication and their ultimate demolition. Their huge, non-recyclable blades have to go to landfill.

Along with their unpredictable, inconstant electricity generation, wind turbines represent a very poor investment of our increasingly scarce resources.

Charles Wardrop, Perth.


I NOTE a superb picture of a beautiful pheasant (Picture of the Day, The Herald, May 31).

What a shame that someone will probably try to shoot it “for sport” or even for “fun”.

Is this sort of so-called sport still acceptable?

James Duncan, Cardross.


I'M delighted to read of the intention to plant 10 trees for every man, woman and child across the wider city region ("Dear Green Place to become even greener with 18 million new trees", The Herald, June 1). I should like to request that my personal allocation of trees be planted in George Square to replace the lovely whitebeams so brutally uprooted many years ago and never replaced.

Edna Scott, Glasgow.