An Argyll island will have a new passenger ferry by the end of this year.
Argyll and Bute Council has awarded the contract to build a new vessel to run between Port Appin and Lismore.
Funded by Transport Scotland, the new ferry will cost around £500,000.
MV Lismore has operated on the quicker passenger crossing from Port Appin since 1988.
CalMac operates a vehicle service on the longer route from Oban.
The new 39ft replacement ferry is being built for the local authority by Welsh marine engineers and workboat builders Mainstay Marine Solutions.
The new ferry is designed to meet specifications set out in new regulations being introduced by the Maritime Coastguard Agency.
Policy Lead for Roads and Amenity Services, councillor Rory Colville, said: “Mainstay won the contract in the face of stiff competition from throughout the UK. At 33 years old, the current Lismore Ferry has served the island well, but it’s time to upgrade.
“Now, we look forward to working with Mainstay over the coming months to deliver a brand new ferry that will future-proof this life-line service for Lismore residents for the next three decades.”
The new all-steel vessel will have a crew of two and space for 23 passengers. Designed by Keel Marine, it has a cruising speed of eight knots.
On completion of sea trials at Mainstay’s base at Pembroke Dock on the Milford Haven Waterway, the ferry will steam the 302 nautical miles north to delivery point on Loch Linnhe.
Stewart Graves, managing director, said: “As the ferry will provide an essential service to and from Lismore, quality of build and reliability in use were essential. Mainstay are delighted to have won this on the back of their long-standing reputation for delivering vessels that meet those criteria. We look forward to the islanders enjoying excellent service from the ferry for many years to come.”
Meanwhile, the CalMac ferry which operates from Stornoway to Ullapool has suffered a major breakdown.
The Loch Seaforth suffered engine failure on Wednesday and was pulled from service with immediate effect.
In the meantime, the Isle of Lewis is picking up the service.
Reports have claimed that the Loch Seaforth could be out of action for up to six weeks.
CalMac has said it has not been given a date for completion of repairs to Loch Seaforth, but it understands that the best case scenario would see it back in service by the end of April.