Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

MV Eigg retires after 45 years on the Clyde

MV Eigg is the last of eight Island-class vessels operated by Caledonian MacBrayne  (CalMac) and was launched in 1975, with a capacity for 75 passengers and fives cars.

It has been withdrawn from service, and is to be sold off.

Caledonian MacBrayne’s oldest ferry MV Eigg ‘retired’

Operating mainly on the route between Oban and Lismore, it also saw service at Largs, Lochranza, Tobermory, Iona, Raasay and Lochaline.

The wee ferry was pictured between the slips at Rhubodach and Colintraive during March, by Zak.

Click on the image for the original, and see more CalMac vessels in Zak’s gallery: CalMac Ferries

MV Eigg Copyright Zak

MV Eigg Copyright Zak

10/04/2018 Posted by | Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen powered ferry to be studied for Western Isles

I usually steer clear of projects involving hydrogen, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with the idea itself, if carried out under appropriate conditions, but because all too often I find that many of those advocating such projects are technically incompetent, and fall into closer to the category of Green Looney than informed advocate.

Hydrogen is easy to misrepresent, and sell only on the basis of being ‘clean’ (or ‘green’), since the only emission (claimed by some) from its use is… water.

But this forgets the conventional process of producing the gas, which can consume large amounts of energy. This is merely a fact arising from the processes involved – it is neither ‘green’ nor ‘non-green’.

This also conveniently glosses over the consequent fact that using the same energy (and let’s be honest and say this is electricity) to power electrical transport directly can be done at around 90% efficiency, while using hydrogen to power transport, via a mechanical engine, or fuel cells, with only yield about 20% – once the whole chain is taken into account.

Those with a negative agenda will now point out that the production process is ‘dirty’, since it uses various fossil fuels to produce the electricity needed to manufacture/compress/store/chill/pump the hydrogen.

They might also note that hydrogen cannot be stored indefinitely, and in hydrogen vehicle use, the tanks have to be vented as the compressed gas boils, with the loss being up to half a tank over a two-week period.

And so far, apparently, there are no private hydrogen refuelling stations for vehicles – they cost millions, and the few that exist for road vehicles are presently only provided by the hydrogen suppliers. I could go on with more potential pros and cons, but it’s not my job to educate, just to point out that both exist, and should be properly considered.

But we don’t have an agenda, so we now point out that sensible plans will use renewable sources of electricity for those processes – something that makes a great deal of difference to such proposals.

This is a game-changer for such proposals, and it seems that the proposal for a hydrogen-powered ferry does refer to renewable sources to provide its hydrogen.

The feasibility study will look at the manufacture of the hydrogen using local wind power, the challenges of how to handle, transport and store the hydrogen on local piers, and how the design of the ship and its engines needs to be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel.

Point and Sandwick Trust said hydrogen has been used for small vessels on rivers or coastal routes but, so far, not successfully for larger sea-going vessels.

Project manager Calum MacDonald, development director for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We have a simple yet bold vision which is to harness the huge potential of community-owned wind power on the Scottish islands to power the lifeline ferry services by utilising the very latest in hydrogen energy technology.

“Turning that vision into reality will be a world-first and requires the very best expertise in both energy and shipping technology.”

Via Study into hydrogen powered ferry for Western Isles

At this stage, pre-judging positively OR negatively would not be a wise move, and more indicative of the politics of anyone making such a premature judgement.

Hopefully the media will not just forget about this study, and will alert us to the subsequent findings.

I lost track of the story of CalMac’s hybrid ferries, and never picked up the thread again, although I was told that there had been a problem with the batteries, but my ‘informant’ on this subject failed to provide any details to back up the claim. And, after a quick look failed to find any substantial details, I gave up. I know… I should have ‘Tried harder’.

Wonder what these guys breathe?

Unusual Ferry

Unusual Ferry

26/02/2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) passenger ferry built and launched on the Clyde

I have to confess to a miserable failure, having spent too much time looking at the detail behind the first hybrid ferries launched and operated on the west of Scotland to follow up on their story.

Built for Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) at Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow, the hybrid ferries MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar were announced back in 2012, and I gave the early details here The hybrid ferries of CalMac are real

However, after their completion and entry into operation, I forgot about them (since I no longer ‘float’ around the Clyde) until I received a message to the effect that there had been some sort of problem with their batteries, and that they had failed to operate as expected.

Since I don’t like to rely purely on hearsay or a single unsubstantiated source, I never got around to finishing that story as I (then at least) couldn’t find any news reports or accounts of the problem.

Maybe somebody knows better, and will point me/us at proper details (or I might have another look).

But, this is really about the arrival of another new (here at least) technology for our ferries, unveiled at Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited’s Port Glasgow shipyard.

MV Glen Sannox

MV Glen Sannox can accommodate up to 1,000 passengers, is 102 m (335 ft) long and can carry 127 cars or 16 lorries. It can operate on marine gas oil (MGO) as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG), and is the first of two such ferries being built as part of a £97 million Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) contract. The second LNG ferry (as yet unnamed), is still under construction at the yard, and is planned for the Tarbert/Lochmaddy/Uig route.

Intended for the Ardrossan/Brodick route, the new ferry is set to begin operating in winter 2018/19, and will contribute to meeting emission  reduction targets set by the Government.

This sees the return of the name Glen Sannox to an active vessel, having been seen on a car and passenger ferry serving Clyde routes between 1957 and 1989.

Via UK’s first liquefied natural gas ferry launched on Clyde

Glen Sannox Port Glasgow

Glen Sannox Port Glasgow

Thomas Nugent’s catches are often rewarding, and it seems a shame not to offer credit for the research done regarding this particular (sole surviving) Clyde shipyard:

A series of photos of the construction of MV Glen Sannox, taken from the same spot over a period of eight months.

Shipbuilding is still thriving in Port Glasgow, 237 years after Thomas McGill opened the first yard in the town in 1780.

Ferguson Marine shipyard is the last shipyard on the Lower Clyde and is also the last yard in the UK capable of building merchant ships. Shipbuilding started on this site at Castle Road, off the A8, in 1791.

Things could have been very different; the yard entered administration in 2014, 70 staff were made redundant and it appeared that the town’s proud shipbuilding history had come to an end. However, East Kilbride based Clyde Blowers Capital, owned by Jim McColl OBE, purchased the yard and have invested millions of pounds in an on-going modernisation project that will see the yard enter a new era and seek out new markets.

The building on the left is the new shipyard new office complex. The ship under construction, now known as “Glen Sannox”, is a 102m long LNG (liquefied natural gas) powered car and passenger ferry for Caledonian Macbrayne. Part of her sister ship “Hull 802” can be seen on the right.

See the rest of his pics at: Building a ship in Port Glasgow :: Shared Description

LNG and a Scottish loch

There is, perhaps, a slight irony in the arrival of these ferries, as Loch Striven on the west of Scotland was once used to hold giant gas tankers, which lay dormant for some 14 years:

Nestor and Gastor were two refrigerated LNG (liquefied natural gas) carriers completed during 1976 and 1977, intended to transport LNG from Algeria or Nigeria. The discovery of North Sea oil/gas in 1969, followed by the start of production on 1975, effectively rendered the tankers redundant, and they were laid up in the loch the with only a skeleton crew on board, They remained there until 1991, when Shell purchased them to transport LNG from Nigeria. Prior to undertaking the sea journey to France, the tankers were taken to the pier at Inverkip Power Station, where engineers reactivated the vessels and restored them to safe operation for the trip.

In the 11th November 2011 edition of the Dunoon Observer in the 20 YEARS AGO column an item,”Ghosts leaving” appeared:- “The twin ‘ghost ships’ of Loch Striven – giant gas tankers, the Castor (stet) and Nestor – were to be recommissioned after lying dormant in the Loch for 14 years. After a refurbishment by Shell UK, the Bermudan registered ships were to be used to transport liquefied natural gas between new gas fields off Nigeria and Europe and the USA. The 274 metre-long vessels were to be re-named the LNG Lagos and LNG Port Harcourt.”

Via our Loch Striven page

24/11/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ferry subsides ruled fair by EC

Car ferryFerry services in the Clyde, Hebridean and Northern Isles are provided mainly by state-owned Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and NorthLink Ferries. Most, but not all of the routes operated by these companies provide services to, from and between islands, and as a consequence are referred to as lifeline services.

Concerns that the government’s funding of the country’s lifeline ferry services breached European competition law have been rejected by an official inquiry. The European Commission said this was “compatible with state-aid rules”.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Ferry subsidy ‘in order’, says EC

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’ve voluntarily withdrawn from passing direct comment and opinion on ferry issues. I’m only an occasional tourist-style user, but have done so for decades, received fine service when I needed it (and there wasn’t a strike in porgress), and seen enough to learn that there is some sort of nasty anti-CalMac attitude fostered by some, determined to undermine anything the operator does regardless of whether it is good or bad, and that spilled over into the sort of messages I received when I spoke up in favour of the operator. So I’m not mentioning any specific commentators.

What I will venture to say is that reading the BBC’s report of the comments made by the various parties that feel CalMac impacts on them could still be scripted in terms of the positive or negative spin they put on the commission’s ruling, and none of the players have changed their positions or opinions on this, or the part played by the Scottish Government.

The same entrenched attitudes can still be found in the report provided by the Dunoon Observer online:

EUROPE DECIDES: Tender for Dunoon ferry

01/11/2009 Posted by | Maritime, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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