CALEDONIAN Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) has announced the name of its newest fleet member following a public vote.
Over 1000 votes were cast, with Loch Frisa coming out as favourite, Glen Forsa in a very close second place, and Torosay in third.
MV Loch Frisa, previously known as the MV Utne, was purchased by CMAL from Norway in October, and will bring extra resilience to the network. She is currently at Dales Marine Services Ltd in Leith, and is undergoing modification work to bring her in line with UK maritime regulations.
Work includes manufacturing and installing a new ramp, replacing lifejackets and other lifesaving appliances to ensure they meet UK standards, upgrading the marine evacuation system and life raft deployment, as well as some mooring works.
The work should be completed in early 2022, and once the CalMac crew has undergone on board familiarisation training, she will be deployed on the Oban-Craignure route.
There will also be a small ceremony in the new year, where Argyll and Bute councillor Mary-Jean Devon, who is from Tobermory, will officially rename the vessel.
Kevin Hobbs, chief executive of CMAL said: “We had an excellent response to our naming competition, and it was very close between Glen Forsa and Loch Frisa. We wanted to rename the ferry to give her a Scottish identity, and Loch Frisa is the largest loch on the Isle of Mull, so it is a perfect fit.
“We look forward to seeing MV Loch Frisa out on the network, and communities in Skye and the Western Isles will also benefit as a result of the cascade of vessels elsewhere on the network.”
Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “I’m very pleased to hear that Loch Frisa has been selected as the name of choice for the vessel. It’s a very befitting name for her deployment on the Mull route. She will definitely bring welcome additional resilience for our island communities when she enters service next year. “The purchase of the vessel is part of the Scottish Government’s £580 million commitment to fund new ferries and port investments over the next five years. We continue to work with CMAL and CalMac to develop potential programmes that will deliver additional improvements to the network.”
The public vote included a competition with a prize for one individual, chosen at random from those voting for the most popular name, to be invited as a special guest (with a friend) to travel onboard the MV Loch Frisa, and receive a £200 gift voucher for the Isle of Mull hotel. The winner was named as Alistair Forsyth, from Arran, who said he will be taking his wife along with him for the trip.
CMAL has a significant plan of vessel and harbour investment underway, backed by a £580 million commitment from the Scottish Government for an initial five-year period from 2021 to 2026. Plans will deliver 21 new vessels for the fleet and multi-million-pound upgrade of harbour infrastructure over the next 10 years. Further multi-million-pound investment will be needed to fund plans from 2026 onwards.