Cammell Laird gets set to secure new ferry contracts

Birkenhead shipyard and engineering business Cammell Laird says it is talking to a number of ferry operators about long-term maintenance contracts post-lockdown. Tony McDonough reports

Loch Seaforth
Loch Seaforth, a ferry in dock at Cammell Laird


Shipyard and engineering firm Cammell Laird is anticipating a surge in demand for long-term repairs and maintenance contracts with ferry operators as the UK exits lockdown.

With multiple lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and early 2021, the Birkenhead business saw a reduction in ferry projects. Many operators, particularly those involved in passenger traffic, delayed all but vital work.

However, Cammell Laird now reports the  market for wider maintenance and repairs is improving. It claims ferry operators are showing an appetite for longer term contracts and greater collaborative working with the supply chain, rather than dealing with routine repairs and maintenance on a purely annual or individual basis.

Neil Harden, commercial director at Cammell Laird, said:  “Although there was a reduction in ferry work during 2020 due to the pandemic, there is a growing movement away from short-term thinking in favour of longer term solutions.

“Ferry operators are seeking greater certainty. That’s in relation to cost and vessel availability, but perhaps more importantly in the workings of these supplier relationships too.

“In our experience it is long-term collaborative partnerships that yields the in-depth knowledge of vessels that is so  crucial to effective problem solving, maintaining the highest level of vessel availability and increasing programme efficiencies.”

This approach also affords Cammell Laird the opportunity to plan ahead – ensuring dock, equipment and resource availability and communicating with subcontractors well ahead of time. In January, the business secured a four-year contract with CalMac, one of the UK’s largest ferry operators, for the annual maintenance and dry docking of the five largest vessels in its fleet, using this model. 

The contract provides a long-term, collaborative and cost saving approach for the MV Clansman, MV Loch Seaforth, MV Lord of The Isles, MV Finlaggan and MV Hebrides.  Each vessel will dock at Cammell Laird each year.

MV Clansman
MV Clansman, one of the five CalMac Ferries included in the deal with Cammell Laird


Mr Harden added: “We had enjoyed a long-standing relationship with CalMac Ferries for some time, but this is the first time we’ve been awarded a long-term framework type contract in this way.

“Since the start of this year, interest in this long term contractual model has really piqued and we are currently exploring a number of similar agreements with several major UK ferry operators.

“We have the optimum facilities to support the ferry sector with four docks to suit larger vessels, plus the afloat berthing facility in the wet basin is used for MCA life raft deployments and running engines under load after major overhauls.”

During 2020, Cammell Laird delivered projects for Seatruck Ferries’ ro ro ferry mv Arrow following grounding damage, CalMac Ferries’ MV Finlaggan for rudder repairs and ro ro cargo vessel MV Clipper Point  for bow thruster repairs.

In the first quarter of 2021 Cammell Laird undertook seven scheduled ferry dry dockings.  Another 13 routine repair and maintenance dry dockings are scheduled for later this year.

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