MINISTERS have been accused of a "scandalous" waste of over £110m  by failing to use catamarans instead of two new alternative lifeline vessels which are now being built in Turkey.

SNP ministers have signed off on the building of the two ferries for Islay at the Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Turkey, at a total cost of £105m, plus a further £17m in required pier upgrades.

But a new analysis, produced with the help of ferry experts, ship brokers and marine economists, reveals that they could have got three catamarans which would could carry 1161 passengers instead of 700 with the preferred ships and 294 cars instead of 214, for just £60m and would not need the £17m pier upgrade.

It says that the 25-year-cost, including the build and the running costs of the catamarans would be £274m - against £387m for the conventional monohull options being preferred - a saving of £113m.

The study produced by the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee accuses state-controlled ferry owners and procurers Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) of sanctioning a catamaran design that was "designed to fail" when coming up with the options for the two lifeline ferries.

It argues that catamarans are cheaper, more reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly than the conventional monohull vessels that are at the centre of Scotland's ferry fiasco.

The new analysis say three catamarans would provide greater resilience to the fleet with an extra vessel and also provide 25% more room for HGVs, would provided 31% lower fuel consumption and 31% lower emissions per car space.

CMAL has debunked the study, denied it is anti-catamaran and said the analysis did not have the information necessary to make robust assessements.

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Scotland's lifeline ferry fiasco features the monohulls MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 which are still languishing in the now state-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard, with costs of their construction reaching at least £250m, while their delivery is over five years late.

The ferry committee believes "dogma and pride" have led CMAL to be anti-catamaran because it would have effectively been an admission of past mistakes.

Dr Alf Baird, formerly professor of marine business at Edinburgh Napier University and member of the now defunct ministers' backed ferry advisory committee said: “You have to wonder who’s marking CMAL’s homework, if they can get away with this sort of thing.


The Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard

“This blatantly biased and error-riddled so-called ‘consultation’ is a scandal. If this is the calibre of work and level of oversight that goes into decisions worth hundreds of millions of pounds, goodness help us. Unfortunately, I am not surprised, but the blatant squandering of enormous sums of public money in return for ever worsening ferry service provision is totally unacceptable."

The analysis claims work on the catamaran design began three weeks before a webinar in which it was presented as part of a consultation for the new Islay vessels and the committee say it was rated as "worse than the monohull on every measure".

They say the late design was the creation of Navalue, the same German ship design consultants that worked up a preferred monohull design.

"We put the design to several naval architects (including catamaran specialists) and their appraisal was far from complimentary. It was recognised as a hugely heavy, poorly developed design," the ferry committee said.

The detailed opinion of naval architect Euan Haig - who through his career was responsible for the successful delivery of multiple MOD contracts worth many hundreds of millions of pounds- is damning.

Mr Haig, characterises it as a “catamaranised CalMac monohull”, and an immature design that fails to capitalise on the natural advantages of catamaran hulls.immature design that fails to capitalise on the natural advantages of catamaran hulls.

In particular, the low clearance of the underside of the vehicle deck above the water “…alone makes CMAL's design unfit for purpose and unworthy of development…. A pig in a poke.”

He added: "It is untrue that catamarans are less stable than monohull. It is total garbage.

"I am staggered by the rubbish pumped out about catamarans."

Joe Reade, chairman of the ferry committee said: "CMAL have a long history of being anti-catamaran. But why? It appears to be a mixture of dogma and pride. Decisions around the spending of tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers money don’t seem to be founded on objective analysis, but on subjective preference given a veneer of impartiality through a superficial and flawed options appraisal.

HeraldScotland: The Glen Sannox will now be completed next year

"CMAL’s poor attitude is perhaps because they fear that the best examples of good catamaran design will demonstrate how poor CalMac vessels are.

"The cynical and manipulative use of a catamaran design that was deliberately designed to fail is harmful to both islanders and taxpayers. It’s shameful."

CMAL say the Turkey deal would increase vehicle and freight capacity by 40% on the Islay routes which are already the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network, and CMAL says that the incoming ferries will provide vital support the island’s vital economic activity.

Four shortlisted shipyards were asked to submit their technical and commercial proposals for the design and construction of the two vessels.

The successful initial bids were from Damen Shipyard in Romania, Remontowa Shipbuilding in Poland, and Turkish shipyards Sefine Denizcilik Tersanecilik Turizm, and Cemre Marin Endustri.

But it was confirmed state-controlled Ferguson Marine embarked in a bid for the contract through the initial Pre-Qualification Questionnaire process but failed to make the shortlist.

One ferry sales company executive told the Herald on Sunday: "I believe it’s as simple as the cover up can be worse than the crime. What I mean by this is to accept that tried and tested catamarans are more efficient than a continued stream of one off, operationally unproven and highly expensive monohull designs (both in capital cost and operationally) would be to admit to prior procedural and design missteps.

"So they continue to promote similar vessels to those built before rather than admit that their procurement and operational model is essentially Victorian in nature.

For Islay specifically, they clearly had no intention of undertaking a real qualitative analysis of their preferred monohull design against an actual real cat design because they asked the same monohull designers to produce a general arrangement for a catamaran.

"If this was a serious exercise they would have asked an actual proven catamaran designer to produce a [design] and the results would be self evident in terms of cost and operational efficiency."

Roy Pedersen, a consultant and another member of the Transport Scotland's defunct ferry advisory committee Roy Pedersen has said the proposed ferries for the two-hour Islay crossing, are planned to have a crew compliment of 27 with no less than 11 being involved in on-board catering and sales.

Meanwhile Pentland Ferries catamaran Alfred which can carry 430 passengers, 98 cars and has a crew of 14, with two in catering costs only £14m, and he says is "proven to be vastly superior to conventional CalMac-type monohulls in sea-keeping, reliability, greatly reduced operating costs and CO2 emissions".

It was brought in to operate between Caithness and Orkney three years ago after being built in Vietnam.

The ferry committee has said it is widely appreciated by Orcadians for its reliability in poor weather, and by the ferry company for its low running costs.

Dubbed the most environmentally-friendly ferry service of its kind in Scotland, it is said to burn one third of the fuel of an equivalent CalMac ferry with space for up to 430 passengers and 98 cars, or 54 cars and 12 articulated vehicles/coaches. A shore-based wind turbine provides power when the vessel is docked overnight.

A CMAL spokesman said: “We do not recognise the individuals quoted as ferry experts, and they don’t have all the information necessary to make robust assessments and comparisons.

“Our analysis and consultation for the two Islay vessels was extensive, and the Islay Ferry Committee has stated its satisfaction with the level of engagement and the two boats on order.

“CMAL is not anti-catamaran; in fact, we are considering a catamaran for the Dunoon - Kilcreggan - Gourock route. We deal in facts not fiction, and will only ever order the vessels best suited to the routes and communities they’re intended to serve.”