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CalMac seeks contractor for £8m maintenance contract of firm’s ageing fleet

The MV Isle of Lewis had been stranded in Barra in the earlier parts of this week
The MV Isle of Lewis had been stranded in Barra in the earlier parts of this week

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has put an £8 million maintenance contract on its ageing fleet out to tender.

The ferry company has been criticised for the running of its services recently, with the advertising of the public contract coming a few days after the MV Isle of Lewis was stranded at Castlebay on Barra.

The ship was docked at the harbour for four days before its removal on Wednesday, with no further vessels of the same size able to dock during its extended stay.

The contract, which is broken into seven lots, includes dry docking tasks, repair and maintenance on the ships, modifications and upgrades as well as emergency dockings on 29 vessels of the Cal Mac fleet.

A CalMac spokesman said: “Last year we simplified our procurement process for annual dry docking to make it more efficient, which worked well.

“On the back of this we have taken more steps to ensure that the process is as accessible as possible to suppliers based across our area of operations to ensure that they can compete effectively for this work.”


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CalMac currently operates 31 vessels across its 28 routes to 22 islands on the west coast of Scotland.

MP for the Western Isles Angus MacNeil said: “We have got to keep the ships sailing and if it takes £8million in order to do that, then it takes £8million.

“The cost of not sailing and the disruption it causes is much greater than that fee, so it is encouraging to see money being spent to ensure ships remain operational.

“The issues we have seen in Barra may have been avoided if we had had this investment sooner, and I am sure the cost of doing this now will save on future costs of emergency repairs in having to get everyone around and shifted in order to carry out the work.

“It is good to see this investment is taking place and it will allow for the arteries of commerce to remain open.

“It really is an investment in the communities on the west coast, of which ferry services serve as a lifeline.”

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