Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lifeline Island RoRo Freight and Passenger Ferry Services Get Annual Upgrade

Maintenance Essential in the Waters off the Wild Scottish Coast
Shipping News Feature

UK – Doubtless the rigours of maintaining the vital lifeline services to and from some of the most remote Scottish Islands in all weathers takes a heavy toll on the 33 vessels operated by RoRo freight and passenger ferry operator CalMac on its 49 scheduled routes. Now the company is spending £9 million to maintain the resilience of its fleet.

The investment is in addition to the annual planned maintenance expenditure to ensure every vessel is ready for another year of supporting communities across the west coast and this resilience programme equates to more than double the amount spent last year. CalMac’s Director of Asset Management, Julie Philpott, explains the reasoning behind the programme, saying:

“Trying to ensure that every vessel gets the proper levels of maintenance and upgrades, while keeping lifeline ferry services running is an extremely complex operation. Not all vessels are suitable for every route and harbour, meaning the matrix we need to design to ensure service continuity is long in the planning.

“We try where we can, within the resources available to us, to provide as seamless a service as possible during this period, matching suitable vessels to cover routes. But getting every vessel in for maintenance requires us to do a certain amount of manoeuvring. We try and keep inconvenience to a minimum, and hope the travelling public can understand why we have to make the vessel changes that we do at this time of year.

”For those not involved in the refit process the sheer scale of the tasks involved is hard to picture. Last year we fitted more than 11 kilometres of electrical wiring and this year new CCTV networks and pitch control systems alone will see 18 kilometres of new cable installed.

“Some communities may lose their regular vessel for longer periods due to the scale of the work being carried out this winter. However, this additional time out of timetable will help support delivery of a more resilient service in the long term. Customers will be able to see meaningful improvements in service.”

On top of the regular cyclical planned maintenance CalMac are carrying out more than 90 major projects to the fleet this year. This includes new engines on the MV Loch Striven and Loch Tarbert, replacement pitch control systems on the MV Clansman and Isle of Lewis, a new bow thruster on the MV Hebridean Isles, replacement ramps and new generators on various vessels.

Work on the vessels is carried out at yards in Greenock, Troon, Liverpool, Ardmaliesh, Leith and Aberdeen and scheduled to run through to May 2020. The full schedule of works proposed is as follows:

MV Coruisk is to benefit from a replacement propulsion control system, the project involves removing the existing controls system from the vessel and replacing all control components with modern, state of the art components and installation of 1000’s metres of cables.

MVs Caledonian Isles, Isle of Mull and the Loch Shira are to have their existing CCTV systems replaced with new improved systems. The new systems shall allow for improved safety and security for crew and passengers as well as improve observation capabilities within the machinery spaces, car decks and open decks/oversides of the vessels. Crew members can select which camera output they wish to view from a number of control stations throughout the crew areas.

The systems are to be provided with a recording system to allow storage of images for a number of weeks. The plan is to install around 150 cameras and 7000 metres of cabling across the three vessels.

Passenger Lift Upgrades mean MVs Hebridean Isles, Isle of Arran, isle of Mull and the Lord of the Isles are planned to have their existing lift control and mechanical system replaced with a modern control/mechanical system. This will improve the reliability and availability of the lift and allow for faster repair should the need arise. Disability awareness modifications shall be undertaken within the car and at car door areas. Lift car announcements will be in English and Gaelic.

Twelve of the fleets vessels will undergo replacement of a number of the main circuit breakers, these are generally the circuit breakers used to connect the ships generators to the main switchboards and main electrical systems. Replacing these circuit breakers requires careful planning of a power shutdown and provision of temporary supplies during the overhaul period to ensure crew members essential to the dry-docking works can remain living on board the vessel and other power supplies for lighting etc. remain in place to allow other works to continue during the blackout

MV Lord of the Isles shall be fitted with replacement generators and main power cabling, the existing and new generators will be removed and inserted via large holes cut in the side shell of the vessel, once in place the side shell shall be replaced and re-welded. This work shall improve efficiency and improve reliability of the vessels generation system. MV Caledonian Isles is also scheduled for replacement generators

A number of vessels are to receive new radar systems, additional wind speed and direction systems, Voyage Data recorders upgrade, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDDS) spare holding and chart Plotter replacements to improve the existing navigation systems. These upgrades involve removing existing components and modifying control desks to accommodate the new equipment. The upgrades improve the reliability and safety of the vessels navigation systems.

There are plans for replacement Fast Rescue Boats with associated davits and passenger doors on a number of the vessels during 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 docking periods. The MV Loch Fyne and MV Loch Dunvegan are expected to receive new masts in the next two overhaul periods. MV Hebrides will receive a new starboard gangway davit. The MV Loch Seaforth and MV Isle of Lewis will receive a new improved external hull coating system intended to improve efficiency and extend the lifespan of the hull coating.

The MV Lord of the Isles and MV Lochinvar are to have a number of their existing lighting fittings replaced with LED equivalents, this reduces maintenance requirements and overall electrical load demand. There will be a variety of other miscellaneous upgrades including MVs Caledonian Isles, Hebridean Isles, Isle of Arran, Isle of Mull and Lord of the Isles to receive new air compressors. The Loch Seaforth cooling system will be enhanced, a number of sewage tanks will be replaced, and the Loch class vessels shall have a partial cable rewire. MVs Caledonian Isles and Isle of Mull are planned to have a number of internal passengers reclining seats replaced. This will enhance passenger comfort.

Control system upgrades are being carried out on MVs Clansman, Isle of Lewis and the Lochnevis. The project involves removing the existing controls system from the vessel and replacing all control components with modern, state of the art components and, once again, the installation of 1000’s metres of cables. This upgrade is similar to those carried out on the MV Caledonian Isles and MV Hebrides last year, additionally MVs Lord of the Isles, Hebridean Isles and Isle of Mull received replacement propulsion control levers last year.

Eleven vessels will all receive new draught sounding systems which allow the vessel to prevent overloading of vehicles with 11 vessels having been completed last year. Non operation of this system would cause the MCA to impose operational restrictions on vessels. MVs Loch Fyne, Loch Ranza, Isle of Arran, Loch Dunvegan, Loch Striven, Hebridean Isles will all have new fire alarm systems installed, augmenting new systems added last year. 7 vessels will receive new public announcement communication systems, augmenting 8 others upgraded last year.

MVs Caledonian Isles, Hebridean Isles, Isle of Arran, Isle of Lewis, Isle of Mull, Loch Ranza, Loch Linnhe, Loch Riddon and Loch Striven, will all receive new Engine room alarm /monitoring systems. An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is being fitted to the MV Loch Shira, following on from the new unit fitted to the MV Bute last year. A hi fog water mist fire-fighting pump will be fitted on MV Coruisk, following on from the new fire-fighting pump fitted to MV Loch Portain last year.

New propulsion engines will be installed on MV Loch Striven and MV Loch Tarbert; MV Loch Ranza’s engines were replaced last year. The MV Caledonian Isles shall have her existing diesel generators exchanged for new, this also involves main power cabling. This augments the circuit breaker change out carried out last year on her which increases the availability and reliability of the vessels power generation system. The MV Hebridean Isles and the MV Isle of Arran shall receive new bow thruster engines and control systems to improve reliability and performance, which is a significant modification.

A number of smaller modifications are being carried out; the MV Isle of Arran shall receive a new air ventilation unit and a new load sharing system for the ships generators, replacement fire pumps will be fitted to some of the small vessel fleet. Ramp works shall continue on the fleet with replacements where required. Spares with long lead times have been purchased to add resilience in the event of failure.

Some of the listed works have been funded through the Resilience funding commitment and have been, or will be, successful in removing the items of equipment from obsolete status. With this CalMac says substantial risks to reliable service have been reduced.

Photo: The waters off the Isle of Bute do not always look so welcoming.