Arran Ferry Service Being Made Fit For Purpose

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Latest Update: 30th September 2018: Additional jobs for Arran folkClick Here

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The subscribers to this website have several decades experience in building, owning, and managing ferries. This has resulted in the current effort to help remedy the nightmare afflicting hundreds of islanders and visitors.

If CalMac are unable to address the persistent chaos disrupting the lifeline Arran ferry route between Ardrossan & Brodick, the Scotslion Ferries Ltd., intend to place a suitable ferry or more onto this route.

That may require buying or building a third and fourth medium class ferry which is fit for purpose and can address RET overload and old aged CMAL ferries that regularly break down.

However, the core business of those from this website is a venture capital company that buys then refurbishes and re-opens closed buildings. Our main purpose for 20 years has been to create jobs. Formerly Argyll Group plc, this public company was taken private in 2007 and the core 366 members now have the various business recovery projects managed by private firm: Scotslion Ltd. Further details: Click Here.

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Scotslion Ltd., Headquarters: Noss Head Lighthouse Station, Wick, KW1 4QT.

Several members of the Scotslion group come from Arran, and in fact the latest renovation and job creation project is the (currently closed) Sannox Bay Hotel.

Hence the interest in taking direct action to remedy the current Arran ferry disruptions and secure a reliable service for islanders, visitors, employers and businesses of Arran.

There is much to do. This website is very new, although those supporting it come from a long line of directors, master mariners, chief engineers and shipbuilders.

It should be emphasised that Scotslion Ferries Ltd., would much prefer CalMac and CMAL get a grip of the lifeline ferry service.

Also, lest a minority of readers – or CalMac/CMAL be in any doubt about our resolve, we would those studying this page to three elements:-

1] Our past support of CalMac. For example, the petition of year 2000 by members of our Argyll & Scotslion Group working to bring a petition to help CalMac…

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Petition Supporting CalMac By Former Argyll Group plc CEO Russ McLean

Further Details: Click Here. 

The second element being the dispute we won, following the decision by earlier CalMac senior management to cost Argyll 20 jobs. Our subscribers sought to buy the MV Pioneer from CalMac for their Campbeltown-Ballycastle route in August 2004. CalMac said the ship was “not for sale”. Within 2 weeks the vessel had been sold to São Tomé and Príncipe off West Africa. With the aroma of rodent, a significant legal row ensued…

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The Herald Article From May 4th 2006

A useful byproduct was that CalMac deployed a second ferry onto the Ardrossan-Brodick route (more details clarifying the facts on this will appear here in due course).

2] This legal dispute had a pyrrhic victory for our subscribers. As a result, all of CalMac’s ships and piers were removed from the company’s ownership and placed into a new company: CMAL Ltd.

This fact is highlighted to counteract any doubters that we are determined to press the state owned ferry company to do it’s duty in making the ferry service fit for purpose.

Anyone reading the recent nightmares of so many visitors left stranded, repeatedly, cannot say with a straight face, that CalMac senior management have a grip on this…

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The Herald report of recent CalMac – Arran Ferry Problems: Here

The third element is the fact that…

3] Our subscribers and current/past directors of Scotslion Ltd., Scotslion Ferries Ltd., Argyll Group plc and the various related companies have a solid collegiate CV in shipbuilding, ferry management and shoreside infrastructure construction.

This is important in providing the requisite comforts to casual observers of this Arran ferry drama that there are a group of island based individuals who can put together all the requisite elements in order to remedy the situation.

Just a few of the ships our current and past directors/members have built/owned/operated…

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MV Varagen At Selby During Our Company Officer’s Inspection (1989)

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MV VaragenAt Kirkwall Where She Sails To This Day (2018)

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MV Sound of Islay, Inaugurated The RoRo Campbeltown-Ballycastle Service in May 1970

Ironically with the 2018 newbuild MV Glen Sannox costing £47,000,000 and causing Ferguson shipyard considerable discomfort – the more modest 20 car carrying MV Sound of Islay was also built at Ferguson Shipbuilders (1968). The MV Sound of Islay cost £168,500 and had a crew of 5. This diminutive red ship was so successful, a much bigger replacement was built…
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MV Sound of Jura (1969). 36 cars and 6 Crew. Newbuild cost: £315,000

We have been fortunate in having directors from Western Ferries (Clyde) Ltd and Western Ferries (Argyll) Ltd., on the board of our company Argyll Group plc. It is the wise counsel from these very experienced maritime pioneers that has resulted in ferries being within our corporate DNA.

For anyone doubtful about the pioneering efforts, the Highland Seabird was secured by one of our lot, and as a 1976 ship sailing around the west coast of Scotland at that time, was well ahead of her time…

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MV Highland Seabird. More Background: Here

In a twist of fate, one of our contemporary office bearers, Russ McLean wa sfortunate enough to register the charity: Friends of TS Queen mary and serve as one of the three founding trustees. In a rare photograph, we have two ships connected in the picture and by ownership/custodianship of fellow Argyll Group plc directors. Please note, our Argyll Group plc was a much smaller one to James Gulliver’s Safeway Supermarket holding company. In addition we restructured our plc to a private equity company in 2007 during a corporate overhaul. Running a plc is very expensive and the requirements to be at that level no longer made financial sense after 2006. Further CV details: here.

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MV Sound of Islay and TS Queen Mary at Campbeltown Pier Berth 2A (1970)

Lastly for this brief summary of our nautical CV, there is  the beloved MV Lochmor. In 2001 when our relations with CalMac were at a high, we bought this wonderful vessel to make a point that we had sufficient crew, officers, master mariners, chief engineers, shoreside compliance etc., to buy Class IIa ferries – and to do so without the need for bank finance nor ship mortgage. This was required as there are a very vocal minority of tooth-sucking miserable doubters who haven’t a good word to say about anyone.

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MV Lochmor. We Bought This Ferry From From CalMac In 2001

(CalMac wished to retain the name, so we needed to change the ship to MV Lochawe)

The MV Lochmor was basically our tank parked on the lawn. A 189 ton ship parked in the middle of Campbeltown Loch was outr answer to those anonymous keyboard warriors that we could, and were prepared to restart the Campbeltown-Ballycatsle ferry service.

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MV Pioneer. Argyll Group plc Bid To Buy, But Were Cut Out of The Public Sale Tender 

The main difficulty in this was we needed a bigger ship. For 18 months whilst her replacement was being built, we wrote to an earlier MD at CalMac, asking if we could buy MV Pioneer to create 20 jobs in southern Argyll and restart our directors earlier ferry service between Argyll and Antrim? For reasons known best to himself, he said the MV Pioneer was not for sale. As it turned out, the ship was not for sale to our company. Within a few days of our last letter to that CalMac MD., the MV Pioneer was sold to West Africa and our plans were sunk.

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MV Saturn: Happened To Block The Argyll Group plc Effort To Run A Service To Arran

The red mist descended and Arran got a the MV Saturn as a second ferry in 2005 during an earlier ferry dispute. We will expand on this in the weeks to come.

Suffice to say, we have had a great love of CalMac, but also more than one serious fallout.

It is our heartfelt hope that Robbie Drummond, the current CalMac MD will sort his Arran ferry problem and place 4 medium sized ships onto the Ardrossan-Brodick route.

The brobdingnagian big boat, MV Glen Sannox is utterly wrong for Ardrossan and the Arran route in general.

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This website is being added to regularly. Please check back for news and updates.

Would You Like Updates?

If you would like us to email you with updates and news, please TEXT your email address and the words “CalMac Arran” to:-

0757 276 8795

Thank you.

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IF the CalMac senior management are unable to bring about the required improvements on the main Arran route, Scotslion Ferries Ltd., intend to add medium sized ships so that there is…

> A reliable ferries with sufficient backup/spare ships to cover breakdowns.

> A longer “ferry day”. In other words sailings from 5am to 11pm?

> A more frequent ferries. Every hour at peak times?

> No need to book.

> Just turn up and drive onto the next ferry. Max wait, 1 hour.

> No more being left stranded and abandoned in the “unbooked” ferry queue whilst the Arran ferry sails away without you on board. Yes, we all know that feeling!

This website is now asking islanders + visitors + hauliers + island business owners + any and all stake holders for their views please.

You can either send a text to…

0757 276 8795

Or write to:-

Scotslion Ferries Ltd., Ingledene Office, Sannox Bay Hotel, Sannox, Isle of Arran, KA27 8JD.

Please remember, this island based company does NOT want to run a new ferry service between Brodick and Ardrossan, BUT if CalMac SENIOR MANAGEMENT are not prepared to sort out the deteriorating lifeline ferry service to the Isle of Arran, then someone needs to step in and get this remedied.

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