Islay Ferry MV Finlaggan Arrives 17 May on Islay

Carl Reavey, the editor of Islay,s Newspaper "The Ileach" was recently invited by CMAL to visit the shipyard in Poland where Islay's new ferry, the MV Finlaggan, is now almost ready to sail to Scottish waters where she is expected early May. The big question of course is when can we see the vessel at Port Askaig. There will be an invitation-only cruise from Islay to Colonsay and Oban on or around 17th May during which there will be an official naming ceremony. On the 18th May she will return to Islay for a Public Open Day when we are all invited to take a look around. The MV Finlaggan will start her service on the Islay route at the 23rd of May. The dates however can be subject to change. Below is the article about the MV Finlaggan as it was printed in The Ileach Newspaper.

Update: According to Carl Reavey the date of MV Finlaggan's arrival has slipped a bit - possibly a week.

Artist impression of Islay Ferry MV Finlaggan entering the Sound of Islay at McArthur's Head

MV Finlaggan's call sign is 2ECF2
The Finlaggan has six decks. Foot passenger access is one deck higher than we are used to on the Hebridean Isles or the Isle of Arran. This will of course require different access ramps to be provided at Port Ellen, Port Askaig and Kennacraig. The bow of the ship is bulbous which very significantly improves the efficiency of the ship through the water, producing a more efficient wave pattern and therefore lowering fuel consumption. Vehicle access via the stern ramp is very similar to the existing ferries, even though the access ramp is approximately 1 metre shorter. Vehicle access through the bow will also feel very similar to drivers, but the bow opens horizontally via clamshell doors rather than the vertically raised visor on the existing ferries.

Chief Engineer Gordon Haig
- is pictured in the engineering control room (right) where all the system alarms are replicated (there are further monitoring points in the engineer’s cabins). Additionally all the operational data from the engines, down to the exhaust temperatures from each engine cylinder, are constantly checked, as are all the tank levels. Cooling of the main engines is achieved via a freshwater system which incorporates a heat recovery system employed to supplement the heating of the heavy oil which needs to be stored at a temperature of 60 degrees C and then pre-heated to 110 degrees prior to being burnt. Waste heat is also recovered from the engines’ exhaust gases and used for this purpose. The pumps circulating fuel and coolants all have 100% redundancy built into the system.
This is the first "big" CalMac ship to be built for ten years and it will be the first in the fleet to be certificated to be operated to a system called UMS or "Unattended Machinery Space". This essentially replaces the inefficient system of watches which have traditionally marked life on board for the crews. Continue reading.....

Captain Roddy Macleod on the bridge
The bridge of the Finlaggan is completely enclosed providing a much improved working environment for the control of the ship. The main control consoles are replicated on each bridge wing with glass panes let into the floor to allow a clear view of the ship's side during close manoeuvres. Visibility from the bridge is excellent - and it is maintained in all weather conditions through the use of 21 windscreen wipers controlled via a touch-screen computer.
The bridge is more reminiscent of the the starship Enterprise than that of a conventional ferry. Just about every function of the ship can be either implemented or monitored from here, including starting the main engines. There are no fewer than 2,000 separate electronic alarms and 27 CCTV cameras monitoring everything that goes on. There is no wheel, the controls of the two main engines, the twin rudders and the Rolls Royce manufactured stabilizer system resembling those found in the cockpits of commercial airliners rather than on-board ships. The power management system is particularly sophisticated, with alternators running off the main shafts rather than conventional auxiliary engines. The backup systems are so comprehensive that when the ship was on sea trial, despite a controlled total electrical power loss trial simulating a catastrophic failure of the main alternators, power from the main engines was uninterrupted while full power to all ships systems was restored within six seconds. That is really handy to know when you are responsible for a 5,200 ton ship with 550 people on board in waters as difficult as those off Scotland’s west coast.
All loading information is constantly relayed back to CalMac headquarters in Gourock, and there are even panic buttons located both on the bridge (and elsewhere on the ship) to alert the authorities should the vessel be the subject of terrorist attack.


Car Deck
The car deck is similar to those we are used to on our existing ferries, but it is slightly wider, allowing five lanes of cars. It is free of the central column found on other big CalMac ferries. There is a mezzanine deck which will enable an additional eighteen cars to be loaded. This can be winched to the deckhead above allowing up to ten 44 ton articulated lorries to be carried. While the ship can "only" carry an additional 26 or so cars compared to our existing ferries it represents a vast improvement in its freight capacity owing to its increased deadweight of 740 tonnes.

Engine room
The main engines powering the ship are Wartsila 8L32, and considered to be the best available. They employ eight cylinders in an in-line format and burn heavy fuel oil. The bow thrusters are Brunvoll and the stabilisers are Rolls-Royce "Aquarius" folding fin-type. The engines are significantly quieter than we are used to and produce less vibration through the ship. The ship is expected to be significantly more stable while at sea, and both Master and Chief were extremely pleased with the way she had performed during sea trials. Her operational speed will be 16.2 knots, which is higher than that of the existing ferries which operate as 14.5 knots. This will involve the engines operating at around 85% of the maximum power rating for the engine, the speed through the water being controlled by the twin variable pitch propellers.

The timetable
CalMac are aiming to have the Finlaggan in service on the Islay run on or around 23rd May 2011. Once the ship is completed in Poland and handed over to CMAL (who will own her) and then charter the ship to CalMac there will be 4-5 days to familiarise the full crews in Poland followed by a 4-5 day passage to the west coast of Scotland, with bunkering expected at Scrabster en-route.
All MCA tests on the ship have been completed in Poland. There will then be a 7-10 day operational trials period down the west coast during which various berthing tests will be undertaken at linkspans throughout the network, and this will be followed by an invitation-only cruise from Islay to Colonsay and Oban on or around 17th May during which there will be an official naming ceremony. On the 18th May she will return to Islay for a Public Open Day when we are all invited to take a look around. This timetable is inevitably subject to modification due to any number of unforeseen circumstances, but all concerned are understandably pleased that she is currently both on-time and on-budget and the expectation is that she will continue to be so.

The standard of accommodation being provided for both passengers and crew is very high and is more reminiscent of the features on cruise ships than on conventional ferries. There are essentially two main areas for passengers, the cafeteria and the lounge. While we were shown round all parts of the ship, the ‘least completed’ parts were these areas, some of which had the windows masked for painting. Photographs simply would not have done them justice, so Ileachs will have to wait and see these for themselves when the ship arrives on Islay. The views from the passenger accommodation are going to be truly spectacular, and there is a separate ‘quiet room’ in which it will be possible to escape from the seven screens which will be showing TV and presenting information such as the ship’s current position. There is a sort of glass ‘aquarium’ playroom for children, so that parents can constantly monitor their loved ones while maintaining a comfortable distance. All passenger accommodation is air conditioned. There are free showers aboard for backpackers and travellers who would like to take the opportunity to freshen up during their journey.

Remontowa have now built three vessels for CalMac/CMAL, the MV Argyle and the MV Bute which serve Rothesay, and the much bigger MV Finlaggan, which will serve Islay. Jan told us that he always has mixed feelings when handing over a ship to her new owners, but looks forward to long-term relationships such as that which his shipyard is building with CMAL and CalMac. He enjoys the challenge of incorporating new technical systems and moving with the times. The company is now building four 120 car environmentally friendly LNG powered ferries for the Norway and hopes to bid for the hybrid vessels being proposed by CMAL. The company specialises in the high-end specialist shipbuilding market, as it finds competing with the Chinese for the market in standard cargo vessels difficult. It therefore concentrates on specialist ferries and oil platform supply vessels in particular although all sorts of shipbuilding is undertaken. A fishing boat was being built next to the Finlaggan while we were there. The amount of manpower required in specialist shipbuilding is considerable. There were around 400 men and women working on the Finlaggan during our visit.

On the quayside in Gdansk are (left to right) Andrew Flockhart of CMAL, CalMac Senior Technical Manager Scott Ure, Chief Engineer Gordon Haig, Ship's Master Roddy MacLeod, CalMac Retail Services Manager Drew Collier and David MacBrayne Group Public Affairs Manager David Cannon. The ship has been manned by each of its senior officers on rotation since the beginning of the year. The senior officers on leave during our visit are headed by Master Guy Robertson with Chief Engineer Alex Forrest.


This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper. I also like to thank the people at CMAL, especially John Salton, who provided the many pictures of the MV Finlaggan from the construction phase in Poland.



Tag: mv finlaggan ferry cmal calmac ileach transport