The largest ferry in the west coast fleet, which plies the route between Ullapool and Stornoway, has been bought on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has purchased MV Loch Seaforth after completing a deal with Lloyds Banking Group.
The vessel has been sold for an undisclosed amount as part of a commercial agreement.
MV Loch Seaforth was financed by Lloyds Banking Group and has been leased to CMAL for the past five years through an operational lease agreement.
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Our ferry services are iconic transport links that play a vital role for our island economies, so it’s very important that we secure the MV Loch Seaforth for the future of the Clyde and Hebrides network.
“This vessel is the fastest major vessel in our fleet and has proved itself both highly reliable and a real workhorse, in carrying a very substantial number of passengers and a tremendous volume of freight annually since it entered service.
“Purchasing the Loch Seaforth outright will also bring considerable financial benefits by delivering savings to the public purse over the longer term when compared with a more expensive leasing arrangement.
“Making sure these lifeline transport links continue to support the communities and businesses they serve, such as for the Outer Hebrides, remains at the very heart of our ferry operations. Therefore, I am very pleased that this transaction secures this crucial vessel for the future and in a way that will deliver best value for taxpayer’s money.”
Kevin Hobbs, chief executive of CMAL said: “This deal makes MV Loch Seaforth a permanent part of our fleet and secures the long-term future of the vessel for the Western Isles.”