The first roll-on/roll-off electric diesel ferry hybrid in the world has been launched from Port Glasgow on the River Clyde. This is the first time in over five years that a fully built commercial vessel has been launched on the river. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was on hand as MV Hallaig was set on the water.
The ship, which was constructed by Ferguson Shipbuilders, is one of two sister vessels that will be operated by CalMac Ferries. A £20 million loan from the Scottish government has supported the building of both vessels, as well as the security and creation of 20 apprenticeships and 175 jobs in the local community, supporting local economic growth. An extra £450,000 has been invested by the European Regional Development Fund.
Caledonian Maritime Assets chairman Grenville Johnston said that, since the company was created after ferry operations and asset ownership were split in 2006, they have been focused on new technologies for vessels. This is a historical day for the company, and the launch of MV Hallaig is a clear demonstration of their commitment to lead the innovation of ferry design. They are proud the design and construction of the ferry with world-class technology has been completed in Scotland to continue a proud tradition of building ships on the River Clyde. The new ferries will begin operating next year, and their technology will be cheaper, quieter and cleaner to operate and maintain. Introducing them into their fleet demonstrates the big economic potential of developing green technology in the travel industry.
Ferguson Shipbuilders managing director Richard Deane said that this is a great day, while it's great to build ships again on the River Clyde. They thank the Scottish government for providing the funds to make this possible and Caledonian Maritime Assets for awarding the company the contract to construct these ships. The yard has more than doubled its workforce, and they have started to take on apprentice training again, he noted.
Speaking after the launch, Sturgeon said that this event is great for Clyde shipbuilding and the whole country. MV Hallaig has served the local economy and community well and will now be serving others on Raasay and Skye soon. It has been more than five years since the last commercial vessel was fully built and launched on the River Clyde. This launch symbolises everything the government is determined to achieve. Their investment of £20 million has provided support to produce the first seagoing passenger and roll-on/roll-off ships in the world to use a hybrid-powered system of battery power and diesel. This demonstrates the excellence that Clyde engineering is famous for around the world.
Stuart McMillan, MSP for the West of Scotland, said before the event that the launch of the first hybrid ferry of its kind in the world is a proud time for everyone involved. He is very proud to attend and pipe at the launch after having grown up in Port Glasgow. This is the last shipyard his father worked at before he passed, so attending such a milestone occasion in the history of the organisation means a lot to him. The construction of these ferries has secured the short-term future of Ferguson Shipbuilders, allowing shipbuilding to continue on this side of the River Clyde.