Caledonian Maritime Assets

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Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited
Public corporation (State-owned)
Industry Water transport
Founded 2006
Headquarters Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, Scotland
Area served
River Clyde, Outer Hebrides, Inner Hebrides
Services Ferries, Harbours
Owner Scottish Government

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (usually shortened to CMAL or CMAssets; Stòras Mara Cailleannach Earr in Scottish Gaelic) owns the ferries, ports, harbours and infrastructure for the ferry services serving the west coast of Scotland and the Firth of Clyde.

CMAL is a wholly owned public corporation of the Scottish Government, with Scottish Ministers as sole shareholders.


Until 1 October 2006 Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd, which was wholly owned by Scottish Ministers, provided the majority of the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services and owned the associated vessels and a number of the ports and harbour facilities that the vessels used. These services required an annual revenue deficit grant from the then Scottish Executive to maintain lifeline service levels.

To comply with European guidelines on State Aids in Maritime Transport, an open public tender was deemed necessary in respect of these ferry services and the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) was tendered as a single bundle, with the exception of the Gourock-Dunoon service.

In recognition of the uniqueness of the fleet and to ensure a level playing field for all bidders, on 1 October 2006 Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd was split into:

  • An asset-owning company, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL).
  • A new operating company, CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL).

This was done by Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd transferring its operations - but not its assets - to CFL. The operation of the lifeline ferry service was then put out to open competitive tender.

CMAL now owns all vessels, land based assets (ports, harbours etc.) and the Caledonian MacBrayne Brand and makes them available to an operator through an open tendering process. CFL continues to operate the services after winning the tendering process and holds the Public Services Contract (PSC) until 30 September 2013. Under the terms of the tender CFL is bound to use the vessels of CMAL.[1]


CMAL’s responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining, improving and enhancing assets such as vessels and the land and property around piers and harbours
  • Seeking extra investment to invest in ferries and harbour facilities
  • Working with stakeholders within Scotland and the wider maritime community to be acknowledged as the principal provider of the most cost-effective, innovative ferries and port infrastructure to the benefit of local communities


Finlaggan passing the Paps of Jura, May 2011

CMAL currently owns 32 ferries,[2] all of which are operated by Calmac Ferries and Rathlin Ferries on routes to the islands and peninsulas of the west of Scotland.

All ferries are specially built for the ports they serve yet are still interchangeable and able to serve different crossings and can carry from five to 143 cars. The total fleet value is £120m.


Port Ellen pier on Islay was officially opened by CMAL in August 2012

CMAL is Harbour Authority at 24 locations across Scotland and owns the associated port infrastructure and properties at each of these locations. Additionally, CMAL’s owns and leases a number of properties at various locations associated with the delivery of Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services.

As Statutory Harbour Authority for a number of these harbours, CMAL’s responsibilities and duties include:

  • A duty of care to all port users
  • An obligation to conserve and promote the safe use of the harbours
  • Responsibility for efficiency, economy and safety of operation, in respect of the services and facilities provided

Current Projects[edit]

Launch of Hallaig Hybrid Ferry in December 2012

Hybrid ferries project - On 17 December 2012, the world’s first seagoing roll-on roll-off vehicle and passenger diesel-electric hybrid ferry was launched by CMAL on the Clyde. MV Hallaig incorporates a low-carbon hybrid system of diesel electric and lithium ion battery power. The 135-tonne ferry is nearly 150 ft long and can accommodate 150 passengers, 23 cars or two heavy goods vehicles.[3] She came into service between Skye and Raasay in the summer of 2013.[4] A second hybrid ferry MV Lochinvar was launched in May 2013 and operates on the Tarbert-Portavadie route.[4] A third, to be named MV Catriona[5] was launched in spring 2016.[4]

In September 2015, it was announced that CMAL would order two 'dual-fuel ferries' from Ferguson Marine Engineering (FMEL). The vessels will be able to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine diesel, future-proofing them for tighter sulphur emissions regulations. They will be the largest commercial vessels to be built on the Clyde since 2001. The first vessel is expected in early 2018, and the second a few months later.[6]

Sustainable ferries study - CMAL has been commissioned to carry out a feasibility study for Scottish Enterprise that will evaluate the technical and commercial possibilities of using hydrogen fuel cells to enable the development of zero emission ferries.[7]

Brodick Terminal Redevelopment - CMAL are continuing to work with Halcrow Group Ltd and CalMac Ferries Ltd on the design development phase of the full terminal redevelopment at Brodick.[8] £18 million pound funding has been secured and it is hoped that construction will be complete by 2016.[9]


  1. ^ "CalMac ferry contract confirmed". BBC News. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2007. 
  2. ^ "Ferries". CMAssets. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "'Hybrid' CalMac ferry launched from Port Glasgow". BBC News. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Nicola Sturgeon launches pioneering hybrid ferry from Port Glasgow shipyard". Scottish Government. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Hybrid Ferries Project". CMAL. Retrieved 9 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Ferguson Marine selected as preferred bidder to build two ferries in Scotland". 2 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "CalMac@40 — Part Two". Clyde River Steamer Club. Retrieved 9 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Brodick Ferry Terminal". CMAssets. Retrieved 9 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "Funding secured for new Brodick pier". Arran Banner. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 


  • Clyde Pleasure Steamers - Ian McCrorie, Orr, Pollock & Co. Ltd., Greenock, ISBN 1-869850-00-9
  • Steamers of the Highlands and Islands - Ian McCrorie, Orr, Pollock & Co. Ltd., Greenock, ISBN 1-869850-01-7
  • To the Coast: One Hundred Years of the Caledonian Steam Packet Co. - Ian McCrorie, Fairlie Press, Fairlie 1989, ISBN 1-871209-01-3
  • The Kingdom of MacBrayne - Nick S. Robins and Donald E. Meek., Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh 2006, ISBN 1-84158-500-9
  • Days At The Coast - Robert Preston., Stenlake Publishing, Ochiltree 1994, ISBN 1-872074-42-1

External links[edit]