Monday, March 24, 2014

CalMac Ferries See New RoRo Freight and Passenger Ferry Launched

German Built Ship Has Christening Tinged with History and Nostalgia
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – SCOTLAND – The latest RoRo freight and passenger ferry was launched at Flensburg in Germany on Friday (March 21) and, when fitting out is completed by September, will serve on Hebridean Island and Clyde shipping group Caledonian MacBrayne’s (CalMac Ferries) Stornaway to Ullapool route. The ceremony itself carried more than a touch of nostalgia as the new vessel was christened the MV Loch Seaforth by her ‘Godmother’, Joan Murray, the eldest daughter of the late Captain John Smith who skippered the original inter island ferry of that name which served for 25 years.

In addition the name was chosen after a public competition last year, winning 40% of the vote. Choosing names for the lifelines which ply their trade between the Scottish Islands by popular census is seemingly now almost obligatory. The bottle smashed on the vessel’s prow was a bottle of Gordon and McPhail single malt whisky from a batch specially named for the occasion.

Reported cost of the new ship is close to £42 million and at 116 metres overall she will be larger than her predecessor namesake by some way, with a capacity of twenty trucks or 140+ cars with 700 passengers. Amongst the invited guests at the ceremony were Isle of Lewis resident Mary Davidson, whose name was selected at random from the 2,000 or so that chose the winning name, and Transport Minister Keith Brown, who commented:

“Today’s launch is an exciting landmark for the MV Loch Seaforth as she moves a step closer to entering service. This vessel will offer passengers, cars and commercial vehicles using the Stornoway-Ullapool route a faster, quieter and more comfortable service and has been designed to accommodate the forecast demand on the route. I am sure the vessel will serve the future needs of all local users and the many visitors to the Western Isles. I look forward to the MV Loch Seaforth taking to Scottish waters later this year and making use of the planned harbour upgrades at Stornoway and Ullapool.”

Seaforth is one of the many Scottish sea lochs and stretches between Harris and Lewis and a video showing the launch is viewable HERE. When fitting out and sea trials are completed the new ship will be passed into the care of CalMac Ferries whose Operations Director, Brian Fulton, commented:

“It is fantastic to see the progress made on the build of the MV Loch Seaforth. She is looking very impressive. We at CalMac cannot wait to have the MV Loch Seaforth join our fleet later this year, she will be a welcome addition”.

Photo: The new ship slides from the blocks of the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) yard on her way to fit out.