Orkney ferry fleet targets upgrade

‘MV Shapinsay’ is being lengthened and given new engines at Macduff Shipyards. ‘MV Shapinsay’ is being lengthened and given new engines at Macduff Shipyards.

The Scottish Government has pledged funds towards the estimated £1.5m upgrade of MV Shapinsay, the ferry serving the Orkney islands route from Kirkwall to Shapinsay.

The MV Shapinsay is 23 years old and would normally be approaching retirement, however these works to lengthen the ship by 6m and replace the engines will mean it will be able to continue in service for another 10 to 15 years.

Roy Morrison of Macduff Shipyards told MJ, ‘The central section was prefabricated in one of our site workshops, starting around two months previously, so when the vessel came into the yard it could just be slotted in, giving extra space to the car deck.’

The increased length will increase car carrying capacity from 12 to 16 vehicles, and the increased weight will also remove restrictions currently applying to the transport of heavy goods vehicles. Other modifications will improve manoeuvrability and reliability.

Mr Morrison added that the replacement engines are two Volvo D12s, which give 450hp each. The drive has also been renewed, with Twin Disc MGX 5135 QuickShift gearboxes. A new Shottel SPJ 57 D9 thruster is powered by a Volvo D9 engine.

The funding agreement follows a request from Orkney Islands Council, which has been looking at the best way to progress upgrading of the Orkney inter-island fleet. Payment for the ferry refurbishment is to be made as a one-off capital grant from Transport Scotland’s ferries budget.

Cabinet Secretary John Swinney said, ‘This upgrade will mean a better service for the people of Shapinsay and Kirkwall and, by refurbishing a ship already in use, will provide value for money to the public purse.

‘This is a good example of an innovative, environmentally friendly solution to prolong the life of a working vessel and I commend the council on their resourcefulness at a time of public spending constraint.’

The Government is also considering a contribution to the full ten year ferry upgrade programme, which will be reviewed when future budgets are set.

Orkney Island Council’s Vice-Convener, James Stockan was looking forward to further discussions with the Scottish Government in the coming months. ‘We are hopeful that the outcome of the Scottish Government’s ferry review will address some of the inconsistencies that exist in the financing of ferry services and that we will be able to access more funding for the remainder of our vessel replacement and terminal upgrade programme’, he said.

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