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CalMac has defended the award of a £25M maintenance contract to an English shipbuilder instead of to a Scottish-based firm nearer home.
Merseyside shipbuilder Cammell Laird won out over Aberdeen-headquartered Dales Marine which has operations in the Garvel Dry Dock in Greenock.
Concerns over the possible impact on Scottish jobs have now been flagged up as a result. The new contract award is the first in a £58m deal to maintain and overhaul CalMac vessels.
The new contract, lasting 44 months, will see work carried out to six of the CalMac fleet serving Scotland’s islands – MV Lochnevis, MV Hebridean Isles, MV Isle of Mull, MV Isle of Arran, MV Caledonian Isles and MV Isle of Lewis.
The Garvel dry dock employs more than 50 workers with CalMac ferry support contracts comprising a significant part of the workload.
Cammell Laird, which is 50 percent owned by Peel Group, faced criticism early last year that it was failing to make good use of the Inchgreen Dry Dock in Greenock, the UK’s largest mainland dry dock.
CalMac told the Lochaber Times that this latest £25million contract was just one of many awarded for maintenance, and the company could not just award them to one supplier as this would not be fair.
Cammell Laird gave the best bid for this particular work, according to CalMac, whose managing director, Robbie Drummond, told us: ‘CalMac has an obligation to put contracts out to tender so that the process is as fair and transparent as possible.
‘A range of factors, including value for money and efficiency, are always taken into account before bids are awarded.
‘We operate a lifeline service across the Western Isles and it is vital that passengers receive the highest standard of service possible. This includes making sure that vessels are maintained to a high standard and that the likelihood of breakdowns are reduced.’
MV Hebridean Isles. pictured, is one of the six ferries which will have maintenance work carried out under the contract.