[16th August - Photo update below - official shot from Western Ferries] Western Ferries, operator of the successful vehicle and passenger ferry service between McInroy’s Point in Gourock and Hunter’s Quay in Dunoon, has today, 15th August 2013, officially named its two new ferries, the MV Sound of Seil and the MV Sound of Soay, at Cammell Laird’s yard in Birkenhead.
The naming ceremonies were carried out by Mrs Glenis Coles and Mrs Maria Chittick, the wives of long standing Company employees, Captain Robin Coles and Neil Chittick, both of whom have a connection with Western Ferries dating back to the mid- seventies.
It’s good to see ceremonies like this managed in a way that pays formal and public tribute in such a major way to the contributions of longtime employees.
Both vessels are nearing the completion of their finishing works and sea-trials, after which they will be delivered to the Clyde to begin operations on the company’s route between Dunoon and Gourock.
Gordon Ross, Western Ferries’ Managing Director, said: ‘The naming of these vessels marks the culmination of many months of hard work and commitment by everyone at the Cammell Laird yard.
‘Witnessing both vessels being named creates very proud moments for everyone involved in this project and the naming ceremonies mark one of the final stages before the vessels are delivered to the Clyde.
‘Cammell Laird’s enthusiasm and passion for this project were clear to see from the outset of this project and extended from construction hall floor to the Boardroom and in everyone else in between. The combination of their enthusiasm, professionalism, pride and the quality of their workmanship can be seen in the wonderful new ferries on show this afternoon.
‘Western Ferries is very honoured to be associated with such a distinguished British shipyard.
‘These new vessels now mean that all four of the Company’s vessels and the new berthing structures were all made in Britain, at a combined cost now exceeding £17m.
‘These new ferries are larger, faster, have improved on board passenger facilities as well as being substantially more fuel efficient and produce lower exhaust gas emissions as compared to the vessels they are replacing.
‘The new vessels provide clear evidence of Western Ferries’s commitment to its customers and to the communities it serves. They continue the company’s on-going process of improving its service through increased frequencies and additional vehicle capacity.
‘The new vessels also represent a significant investment for our employees and their future, as it is the combined efforts of all of the Company’s employees which deliver the service that so many different people, for so many different reasons, rely on.’
MV Sound of Seil and MV Sound of Soay will work with MV Sound of Scarba and MV sound of Shuna, sister ships built for Western Ferries at Ferguson’s yard at Port Glasgow on the Clyde, with Scarba coming into service in 201 and Shuna in 2003.
The impact of today’s naming ceremonies is doubly exciting with the prospect of two new boats coming into operation together in the Western Fleet. Their simultaneous twin arrival will give them a major presence on the Clyde. Below is an official photograph just received from Western Ferries [10.35 16th August], taken by Ian Giles.
The two boats they will replace, MV Sound of Sanda and MV Sound of Scalpay have an interesting history. They were sister ferries bought for the Dunoon-Gourock route by Western Ferries in the 1990s, from the City of Amsterdam. Built in the early 1960s, they were both completely refitted by Garvel Clyde in Greenock, with Scalpay entering service in 1995 and Sanda in 1996.
The link between this pair of sisters and the new kids on the block christened today at Cammell Laird is that when Scalpay came into service, her predecessor, the first MV Sound of Seil, a former Sealink ferry, was retired. Today, one of the latest sisters carries that name into the future, from the history of this private sector Scottish west coast ferry operator.
BBC and ITV were both present at Cammell Laird – but BBC Scotland, behind the eight ball as it too often is, had no mention of the event whatsoever in its 13.30 news – yet here was a private sector Scottish company seeing into simultaneous naming no fewer than two new boats.
A devolved member of the United Kingdom or an independent country, enterprise is Scotland’s one real necessity. Does it mean nothing to our national broadcaster?
The photographs above and the Birkenhead Priory Clock Tower
The official photograph by Ian Giles for Western Ferries ia directly above and was added on 16th August. The first two photographs above were added to the article, published at 13.00 on 15th August, in the evening of that day and were taken by Andy Mahon [Das Boot], from a quarter of a mile away from the Cammell Laird wetbasin at Birkenhead Priory – which has a very handy clock tower. It overlooks Laird’s so it’s a bit of a climb to get to but the intrepid Andy Mahon got us these distance shots of the naming ceremony in the basin, with VIPs boarding for a look around.
Andy Mahon says: ‘There are 101 steps up the tower and 99 of them have a name plate attached to a board, each one the name of RN and Laird’s personal who perished when Submarine HMS Thetis sank in Liverpool Bay. She should have had 59 onboard, but with the extra Laird’s personnel [and a catering crew] it was a party atmosphere for her diving trials. It went badly wrong.
‘Only four escaped. The rest died over a long weekend trapped with the stern poking above the water at low tide.
‘Anyway, the climb is good for the waistline. And I’m known well by the staff, who always start their greeting with: “What’s happening in the yard today then?” ‘
RFA [Royal Fleet Auxiliary] Fort Rosalie (A385), in the shots with the two new Western boats, is the lead ship of her class of fleet replenishment ships. Other fleet auxiliaries are currently steaming for Gibraltar.
We hope to have official photographs later from Western Ferries which we will add here – but there’s a special adrenaline in sharing an occasion like this as quickly as possible – and we are again hugely indebted to the resourceful Andy Mahon. It all looks like a fun occasion and it’s pretty galvanic to see the two new Western boats in party mood and in conversation with each other.