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Written by on 09/08/2013


As shared with his listeners on his DCR Presenters Page Neil’s latest news from the DGFAG is that Susanna Rice the DGFAG Convenor has written to the deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP urging her to hold her policy that the current position is not an option and to try out the Coruisk before the autumn  gales

Susanna writes .



Dear Nicola


Replacement Interim Vessel for the MV Ali Cat

As you are aware the imposition of a downgraded passenger only service from the end of June 2011 has caused very significant hardship and inconvenience to this community.

Both in autumn 2011 and 2012 it was specifically requested that the MV Ali Cat be replaced in order that a more reliable service could be provided. In 2011 the community requested the use of Saturn which had been in use again in late August of that year. This was refused.


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The manner in which The Saturn was laid up has insured it is unusable except with significant expenditure. She would be the best choice being “tried and tested” but she seems to have become a victim of policy.

In autumn 2012 the Ferry Action Group again requested the replacement of Ali Cat and it was indicated the Coruisk was under consideration. Once again no action was taken with disastrous consequences for the reliability of the service and all its resultant effects.

At a recent public meeting it was evident that the community is in no mood to tolerate yet another winter of uncomfortable unreliable vessels. You have previously indicated the possibility of a long term winter trial of MV Coruisk on the route; accordingly we now formally request that this now takes place.

Our rationale is given below.

On completion of the current summer timetable for Malaig/Armadale when M V Coruisk returns to the Clyde she would be available for the Gourock/Dunoon service.

Docking cover for the two Wemyss Bay/Rothesay ferries can be success fully provided by the M V Isle of Arran which, like M V Couruisk, is laid up during the winter months.

In Winter 2012/2013 M V Coruisk was laid up in Troon with berthing costs paid to Clydeport. In addition she had standby crew-cover costs – deck officer, engineer, cook and two seamen. Crewing 24/7 is a requirement of Clydeport regulations – laid up vessels must have a minimum of 2 on board overnight. Additional costs occur as the vessel’s engines and generators are regularly run while the vessel is laid up.

You stated that the reliability of M V Coruisk on the Wemyss Bay/Rothesay route was a key factor in your decision not to deploy the vessel during the winter of 2012/2013 on the Gourock/Dunoon route. This is irrelevant to the Gourock/Dunoon crossing. Wemyss Bay is exposed to anything from southerly to north-westerly wind and sea swell which neither the Gourock nor Dunoon terminals are – in fact sailings from Rothesay diver t to Gourock when such conditions prevail.

M V Coruisk was built for the Gourock/Dunoon route in winter. She is fast, maneuverable and can maintain the required timetable. The previous problem on the route with MV Coruisk was solely due to side-loading and discharging, and there was no breakwater or bow/stern linkspan at the time. This is not now the case as she would be bow/stern loading and discharging at both terminals. This was confirmed back in 2003 by Cal Mac in a letter to Argyll and Bute Council apologizing for the problems that M V Coruisk had when berthing at Dunoon pier and indicating that when the shore side infrastructure was completed at Dunoon (the breakwater and linkspan) this should resolve the problem of timekeeping.

I do hope that you will be able to agree an early sea trial for the MV Coruisk on the route.


Yours truly



Susanna Rice