In an exciting ritual moment today, 18th October 2012, a major physical and formal start was made to the two new and larger boats Western Ferries have contracted Cammell Laird to build for them.
The Birkenhead based shipyard and engineering firm was the site of a ceremony where a party from Western Ferries, led by Chairman Alistair Ross, formally laid the Cammell Laird keel number 1387.
Western Ferries announced at the ceremony that the completed ferry will be named Sound of Seil, continuing the company tradition of naming ferries after Scottish Sounds beginning with an ‘S’.
The sister boat is due to commence construction in November and will be called Sound of Soay. Both boats are due to be handed over to Western in late summer 2013.
These ferries will be used on the company’s service between Dunoon and Gourock, providing a strategic link between the Cowal peninsula and its Argyll hinterland to Scotland’s largest city of Glasgow and the Central Belt; and to the routes south to Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
Alistair Ross said: ‘It is fantastic to be here at Cammell Laird and see work begin on the first ferry.
‘This is a historic day for us. It is the beginning of a journey which we believe will make a massive difference to our company and to its local community for many years to come.
‘These vessels represent a major investment in our service and will enhance the travelling experience for our passengers.
‘The new ferries will be bigger, faster, more efficient and more comfortable than the vessels they are replacing. Capacity will be increasing by 20 per cent to facilitate the expected growth in vehicle numbers.
‘In terms of the environment they will be at the cutting edge of the latest engine technology, thereby reducing fuel usage and emissions.’
Linton Roberts, MD of Cammell Laird, said the company could not wait to get cracking on the building work.
‘Cammell Laird is exceptionally pleased and proud to welcome the team from Western Ferries for this historic keel laying ceremony.
‘We fully appreciate the importance of this investment in state of the art vessels for the company and their ambitions.
‘Our workforce has vast experience and expertise and we are already working hard to ensure these vessels provide the best possible passenger experience and support the growth of Western Ferries.’
Apart from the significance of the keel laying ceremony for Western Ferries, the adrenaline of an occasion like this reminds us how much we have lost in the governmental, corporate and union failure of will to save our engineering and construction capability; and how important it is to rebuild them.
The skills spectrum required in major construction challenges and the excitement they generate cannot be replicated. Making things matters.
This sort of confidence in the future from private sector operator, Western Ferries, is encouraging to see.
We wish them well in the venture and look forward to seeing two more of Western’s signature red hulls ploughing their determined furrows across the Clyde.
The photograph above shows Alistair Ross of Western Ferries and Linton Roberts of Cammell Laird laying keel number 1387 earlier today.
- Western Ferries has operated a successful unsubsidised ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon for the past 39 years.
- It provides almost 32,000 sailings per year, on a route basis more than any other ferry company in Scotland.
- In 2011, it carried over 1.3m passengers and over 0.6m cars.
- It has over 55 employees frm Cowal
- It recently completed a £4m investment in terminal improvements.