Kenneth Gibson and the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee visited Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) Shipyard in Port Glasgow to see the new Ardrossan to Brodick ferry, the Glen Sannox, being built.
To be launched in September, the Glen Sannox will be the primary ferry serving Arran from Ardrossan, with the Caledonian Isles replacing the MV Isle of Arran.
Fuelled by liquefied natural gas and marine gas oil to reduce emissions and help meet SNP Government carbon reduction targets, the Glen Sannox will carry up to 136 cars and 1,000 passengers, be more manoeuvrable than the Caledonian Isles and be more adaptable in adverse weather conditions, with bow thrusters three times more powerful. It is being built in modules, with the bow soon to be attached.
View of the Glen Sannox bow thrusters
Said Kenneth Gibson:
"We enjoyed a fascinating and very informative visit. FMEL could not have been more helpful, with Ardrossan born Chief Executive Gerry Marshall spending several hours with us, answering each and every question.
"The Glen Sannox looks magnificent and after launch will be fitted out, undergo sea trials from next May and begin serving the people and communities of Arran from late summer 2018. I have no doubt that islanders and visitors alike will be delighted by their new ferry.
"In business since 1780 and the last commercial yard on the Clyde, FMEL had called in the Receiver and its workforce had dwindled to 47 by August 2014 when then first Minister Alex Salmond asked businessman Jim McColl to step in. Mr McColl invested £25 million in the yard and after the SNP Government placed orders totalling £97 million for two new ferries, the yard has been completely rebuilt with a full-time workforce of 336 including 35 apprentices, rising to 514 with 100 apprentices by 2020. Most of the apprentices are local to Inverclyde. However, should pupils of any North Ayrshire school want to work in shipbuilding, FMEL would be happy to accept their applications.”
IoAFC members examine the bow section
Added FMEL Chief Executive Gerry Marshall:
"Arran is very important to us and as an Ardrossan boy myself I am delighted the Glen Sannox will sail from there. We are proud to have built the MV Catriona, the world' first hybrid electric-diesel ferry now serving Lochranza and look forward to launching the Glen Sannox.
"Clyde built has long been a statement of pride and we are bringing that back. We are passionate about building ships in Scotland, ambitious and world leading in terms of innovation, safety, quality and sustainability, with a skilled and highly efficient workforce unmatched in shipbuilding expertise anywhere in the world.
"I was pleased to share our exciting plans for growth, diversification and innovation in detail with Mr Gibson and the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee and know the Glen Sannox will be a world class addition to the CalMac fleet when it enters service next year."