Seamus made no secret of his aspirations to be MDI’s next boat build, annually around the time of snow, elves, and everything merry, would come the discussion of “I want my boat on the Christmas card”. 15 years of discussion later, the order is placed for a new passenger and vehicle ferry for Arranmore.
The two existing ferries, “Morvern” and “Canna” are Scottish Island Class ferries built in the 1970’s. The Morvern was rebuilt in 2010, lengthened in 2013, and certified to the latest EU Class B regulations at that time. The new vessel will develop and build on this knowledge delivering greater safety, efficiency, and capability in line with the requirements of SI640 of 2020 Irish Domestic Passenger Ship Standards.
The vessel is designed by Marine Design International Ltd, Glasgow, who worked on the previous vessel refits and conversions for Arranmore making them well versed in the driving factors required by what is one of the most scenic ferry routes in Ireland. The capital investment in a new build is significant, especially for a small business, and yard options were thoroughly considered to ensure the projects viability. Nothing was ruled out, from self-build, to Turkey, and Hong Kong, however the successful yard is a small business on the Isle of Bute where Ewen Ferguson has many years’ experience servicing the Scottish ferries and building several similar scale landing craft.
The vessel itself is arranged, and has been conceptually designed for hybrid electric propulsion, deemed to be feasible in reducing emissions further when funds allow. MDI have previously built fully electric vessels and while the technology is sound and proven, it does not yet offer a financial break even, so can only be implemented when suitable capital is available. The underwater hull is stretched as long as is feasible under the applicable regulations to minimise resistance and the structural design is optimised for weight efficiency whilst anticipating the rough conditions in which the vessel must operate. These considerations will reduce both through life running costs and emissions. In addition, are the futureproofed elements of the design, including a stern vehicle ramp in readiness for the future installation of a linkspan on the island.
Investing in a new vessel is a big commitment, however just as with The Arranmore Ferry, they offer a modern and comfortable experience for users whilst reducing maintenance and operational costs, ultimately assisting business growth in the long term.
The delivery of such a vessel requires a committed team, in this case, Art Kavanagh assisting with financial arrangements, MDI developing a plan and design for the business case to be developed, BV and MSO providing assistance on certification options, operational considerations led by The Arranmore Ferry, and Ewen Ferguson providing proven cost-effective engineering details.
The keel will be laid late August 2022 for an ambitious launch summer of 2023. The new vessel will be an asset to the area and another step in developing tourism, business, and lifeline services.
(& of course, featured in full steam on the MDI 2023 Christmas card!)