STEEL fabrication for the new 102-metre ferry that will serve the Ardrossan to Brodick route from summer 2018 has now reached the halfway point at Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited in Port Glasgow.
The £97 million contract – which is for two ferries, as the other will serve the Hebrides – has safeguarded 125 jobs and created 101 new ones at the shipyard.
The first steel was cut for the vessels, in February this year.
Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North, said: “Not only is real progress being made in building Arran’s much needed and anticipated new ferry, construction has ensured the retention of the skills and expertise of the workforce and the continuation of shipbuilding on the Clyde.
“The SNP Government is committed to creating jobs and the award of this contract helped Ferguson Marine safeguard its workforce and take on more staff and apprentices.
“The new Arran vessel will have a dual-fuel system, meaning it will be able to use cleaner fuel, whilst also future-proofing it for tighter emissions regulations.
“The new ferry was designed specifically for the Ardrossan to Brodick route and will replace the 32-year-old MV Isle of Arran and deliver a safe and more reliable service, with improved windage against bad weather, and bow and stern thrusters three times more powerful than the Caledonian Isles.
“What is critical, is that the new and existing ferry serving Arran operate from Ardrossan. The increased capacity from having two vessels will decrease by 25-30 per cent if they have to sail to and from Troon.
“I look forward to seeing the new ferry being completed and in service from Ardrossan.”
Jim McColl OBE, chairman of shipyard owners Clyde Blowers Capital, added: “It is a matter of great pride that we are on schedule for the halfway stage of steel fabrication for these two innovative vessels.”
The new Ardrossan to Arran ferry will carry 127 cars or 16 HGVs or a combination of both and up to 1,000 passengers.