SCANDINAVIANS are renowned for their resilience, living as they do in some of the most extreme weather conditions in Europe.

From the Vikings to the present day, they know their way around the seas, a rich maritime heritage, which is hardly surprising given the vast coastline stretching from Denmark to the north of Norway.

It also appears they know a decent maritime deal when they see one, after Norwegian shipping company Norled sold a ferry to CMAL for £5.5 million.

The MV Utne will now take pride of place in the CalMac fleet, where it is earmarked for the second-busiest route on the network, from Oban to Craignure on Mull.

There was much back-slapping this week when the deal was announced as it will help plug the gaps in the struggling network, beset by problems due to an ageing existing fleet.

Except there was no real rejoicing on the islands, given the vessel will not enter service until next year after undergoing an eye-watering £3.5m refit, taking the total cost to £9m.

While there has been much gnashing of teeth on the islands, you can almost hear the laughter echoing across the North Sea from Norway.

There is nothing actually wrong with the MV Utne, except that it does seem rather small, especially for such a busy route.

The vessel it is expected to replace – the 18-year-old MV Coruisk – can carry 250 passengers and 40 cars, and that was deemed by many as being too small for the route.

So it’s replacement, the Utne, can naturally only carry 195 passengers and 34 cars, as anything bigger would clearly be a waste.

The new vessel is also a bigger downgrade on an Indonesian catamaran that CMAL came close to buying, which could carry nearly twice as many passengers (350) and more than twice as many cars (80). Overrall, the Utne comes out at £265,000 per vehicle space, as opposed to £150,000 for the catamaran.

It will also not be able to act as a relief vessel for islands such as Coll, Tiree and Colonsay either, as it can only operate in more sheltered water. Which begs the question: why was it bought?

We have all been guilty of a panic buy at some point in our lives, with many a wardrobe full of clothes which were purchased on impulse and never worn again. This seems to be like that.

Only in Scotland can a ferry that is deemed too small be replaced with one that is even smaller, but minor details like that don’t matter when taxpayers’ cash is being used.

CalMac staff and the islanders deserve much better than a shambolic procurement system broken beyond repair.

Don’t rule out a vessel being bought from Norway’s neighbour Denmark to plug more gaps in future. Lego boats couldn’t do much worse after all, and they’d be bigger too.