Steel cut at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard for new Islay ferries

The milestone marks the beginning of construction for the two new vessels being built for CMAL

Steel cut at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard for new Islay ferries


Jim Anderson, director of vessels at CMAL, starts up the machine to cut the first piece of steel

By Alex Smith |

The steel for two new ferries for the Scottish island of Islay has been cut in a ceremony at Cemre Marin Endustri shipyard in Turkey, marking the beginning of their construction.

The vessels are being built for Scottish ferry operator Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL). Each will be 94.8 metres long, with capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars or 12 commercial vehicles, providing a combined 40 per cent increase in vehicle and freight capacity on the routes to Islay. Both ferries have also been designed to deliver reductions in emissions on the route.

“This initial stage of the build will see the construction of the first blocks being carried out under cover, before being relocated to the slipway to be assembled in a process called keel laying,” said Kevin Hobbs, chief executive at CMAL. “Work at the shipyard is progressing well; the team at Cemre is delivering each stage within the agreed timeline. I’m sure this will be welcome news for island communities to see the build programme get underway for these much-needed vessels.”

The £91 million ($102 million) contract was awarded by CMAL to Cemre Marin Endustri in March 2022 following a procurement process. The first vessel is expected to be delivered by October 2024, with the second vessel to follow in early 2025.

The Islay vessels form part of a 10-year programme of investment by CMAL, supported by £580 million ($649 million) from the Scottish government for five years between 2021 to 2026. Plans will deliver 21 new vessels for the fleet and upgrades to harbour infrastructure. Further investment will be required to fund plans from 2026 onwards.

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