Here is the letter that blows this whole fiasco apart. It is all a shambles but pay particular attention to the paragraph where the author of this letter questions whether the supply of wrong information was a mistake, or an intentional attempt to mislead. Certainly the protect the quango and protect the fees and charges for ”serving” seems hugely more important than getting the best ferry services for our islanders and protecting the public purse.

My view is this should be a resignation matter. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been squandered by these incompetents. Dr Stuart Ballantyne is a Scot, who is a world expert on Ferries and is the Chairman of Sea Transport Solutions, a company responsible for the design of over 100 ferries operating successfully in over 47 different administrations all over the World. He holds an Honorary Degree from the University of Strathclyde. Amazingly Dr Ballantyne did not receive even the courtesy of a reply.

Kate Forbes MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Dear Cabinet Secretary
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP
25th February 2021

I wrote to your predecessor Derek Mackay MSP on 11 January to offer the services of Sea
Transport Solutions in resolving the requirement for the vessels 801 and 802 currently
partially built at Ferguson’s yard at Port Glasgow and in enabling the construction of modern efficient ferries to replace the aging and inefficient CMAL fleet operated byCaledonian Macbrayne.

In response I received a short reply from R Davie, Finance, Infrastructure and Sponsorship
Manager at Transport Scotland. In this he informed me that “Scottish Ministers remain
committed to the completion of vessels 801 and 802, the workforce at Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow Limited and the future of the yard”.

We at Sea Transport Solutions have been following recent hearings of the Rural Economy
and Connectivity Committee and are astonished at this decision bearing in mind the intrinsic unsuitability of these vessels for the services to which they are intended, the significant additional cost of bringing them into service and their anticipated extremely high operating costs thereafter. As they are unable to berth at existing terminals, 802 for example will I understand require an estimated £60 million in terminal investment which brings the additional cost of bringing this vessel into service to well in excess of £100 million, leaving aside the funds already spent and effectively lost. We can design and build ferries in a UK yard appropriate to Caledonian MacBrayne’s requirements to operate to existing terminals for less than a quarter of that sum while at least halving the operating cost per unit. There is no reason why such vessels could not be built on a production basis at Fergusons assuming efficient management.

Transport Scotland’s Finance, Infrastructure and Sponsorship Manager, R Davie, mentions
that decisions on vessel investment are taken in the context of the Vessel Replacement and
Deployment Plan (VRDP) and that should we retain an interest in any future procurement
opportunities, we should contact CMAL directly.

We have to say that, as we understand it, we believe that the VRDP in effect perpetuates the antiquated CalMac approach, but with bigger more costly ships of the 801/802 type, thereby actually further reducing the already poor performance of the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services. As regards CMAL, our experience in dealing with them over the last three decades has been disappointing and bewildering. Over the years we have been met either with blank incomprehension or a high handed attitude of “we know best”. That this is not the case can be illustrated by two examples.

We submitted a design to CMAL for a replacement ferry for the Arran service based on our
well-tested, fuel-efficient, highly manoeuvrable and cost effective catamaran format. We
were later to discover that a series of design options was presented by CMAL in which our 80 car, 762 passenger design was quoted as having a deadweight (i.e. payload) of 200t and a capacity for only four trucks. The actual deadweight of the vessel is >440t which is more than enough to cater for any load recorded as being carried on the route to date or indeed
anticipated in future.
It was also suggested by CMAL that our catamaran design would not fit existing terminals
(untrue) and that their sea-keeping would be inferior (also untrue). Our smaller Pentalina,
operated by Pentland Ferries, which incidentally frequently carried nine fully laden trailers,
has proven to be an excellent sea boat, regularly sailing in conditions that keep NorthLink’s
Hamnavoe stormbound in port. Hamnavoe is of a design not dissimilar to 801 and 802 and
incidentally emits some four times the CO2 per crossing as Pentalina and at some three times the operating cost.

Was the misquoting of deadweight a genuine mistake? If so an extremely serious one that it seems led to the commissioning of 801. Or was this a deliberate attempt to mislead? If so, an even more serious matter. The link is
:– _3rd_december_2012?viewMode=singlePage&fbclid=IwAR0pUDIY86s161oNI0I7DkX8ovJkQoF4u_Cg PwFlSmNOyoKSYea7QIpErQs

As a second example, CMAL’s three small 23 car hybrid diesel/battery electric ferries are
often quoted as examples of environmental good practice. In fact, in terms of litres of diesel consumed per car space per hour at between 3.89 and 4.13, they compare badly with Western Ferries efficient conventional diesel 40 car ferries quoted consumption at 1.83 litres per hour per car space and yet Western Ferries vessels at almost twice the capacity cost one third the build cost of the CMAL hybrids. Our 35 car design would compare at least as favourably in terms of cost and environmental credentials. We actually own and operate ferries and our own terminals so we practice what we preach.

I suggest that CMAL are not well placed at present to deal with the on-going matter of
replacing the current Clyde and Hebrides fleet. As CMAL do not own all the terminals to which CalMac operates. I see no reason why they need own all the ships.

One or more alternative ship owning entities could have the potential to provide a more cost effective ship leasing arrangement than that provided by CMAL and could bring new tonnage on stream both faster and for less capital and operating cost. We at Sea Transport Solutions would be more than happy to work in partnership to offer such a service and in so doing effect a step-change in productivity so as to markedly improve frequency and capacity of Clyde and Hebrides ferry services while significantly reducing the annual cost to the Scottish exchequer. The present system is a disgrace, likely to pull your Government down.

Our group has designed and enabled the building of over 100 state of the art ferries and other vessels now operating in some forty seven administrations worldwide. We are currently fulfilling a contract for twenty catamaran ferries for the Philippines. While we have found an enthusiastic welcome for our input in these administrations, I find it hard to understand why we have experienced thus far such a negative response in my native Scotland.

As a proud Scot, it distresses me that Scotland’s maritime capability has been reduced to such a shadow of its former standing. I have offered to make a contribution to reinstating Scotland as a world class ship designing, building and operating nation and would be happy to meet with you and such others as may be appropriate to discuss how this might be achieved.

Finally I wish you well in your new ministerial duties and if I may suggest, in the light of
be prudent to revisit your predecessor’s decision to continue with 801 and 802, but develop instead a future strategy for the yard in a competitive market, in which, if desired, Sea Transport Solutions could provide the design competence and experience.
You can phone me directly on xxxx xxxx xxxx
Yours faithfully

Dr Stuart Ballantyne


The Scottish Government and both CALMAC AND CMAL should all be looking to sack those responsible for selecting the wrong ships at huge unnecessary expense, with higher operating costs than necessary, then failing to deliver them on time and on cost. Worse they turned down the opportunity to build, under licence, up to fifty ferries, of a proven design, in cooperation with Dr Ballantyne that had the potential to renew the entire Scottish Ferry fleet for less money than what has been squandered on these two ships. Heads must roll!

I am, as always

Yours for Scotland


Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.


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  1. Firstly, that’s a very respectful letter from an eminent ferry builder and operator.

    Secondly, where was the Scottish Government? Have they really been sitting on that letter for over a year? Where was their political acumen, imagination, probity, prudence, civic-mindedness, clarity?

    I have watched the connectivity committee interview Alf Baird and Roy Pedersen in gaping disbelief at the full stupidity that met their positive input…

    ScotGov disregarding this letter tops that by miles.

    Inappropriate treatment of ferry expertise is a public scandal that could be addressed tomorrow by bringing in Sea Transport Solutions immediately. And getting their help in setting up sustainable ferry services for the country as they have already done in Orkney and are helping to do in the Philippines.

    Liked by 28 people

    1. The “difficulty” is having to admit to the litany of mistakes. Worse, someone somewhere needs to admit to the “mistake” or worse intentional misleading. That is why Dr Ballantyne has not had a reply. They hoped it would just go away. It didn’t!

      Liked by 20 people

    2. Tom you are always so diplomatic and respectful in your comments , I am sorry I cannot be so diplomatic , I am incensed that this has and is still happening , HTF have we been so stupid to entrust this cretinous shower with running our country , mistake after mistake , failure after failure ALL OBVIOUS to people paying attention , BUT our fixation (rightly so) in concentrating on independence has allowed these corrupt carpetbaggers to operate successfully under the radar
      I have despised quangos since the liebour party first introduced them because they are just committees of the great and the good middle classes , enthused , enabled and encouraged to add to their greed through appearing to be involved in some socially rewarding enterprise
      The ONLY way to address this endemic corruption is by widespread civic activism to educate politicians that they can and will be replaced

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Having worked with civil servants using their procurement process and seen their lack of robust contract management I can see why they are entrenched, painted into a corner. It’s regrettable that Dr Ballantyne did not raise a challenge at the time of the contract award which would have stopped everything in its tracks. It’s also regrettable that civil servants bring in contractors to manage these big contracts, who very often, in my experience, have their own agenda to add to the mix. There are still things that can be done now, to save the day, if the contract is set up and being managed properly. Unfortunately, Kate Forbes is well out of her depth here. I am all for giving young people their due opportunities but sometimes you just need experience to have learned from.

    Liked by 26 people

    1. And sometimes you have to admit you don’t have the experience but someone like Dr Ballantyne does – and just do the decent thing & ask for help. There is no shame & no embarrassment about admitting she doesn’t know about ships/ferries & about their build. No one knows everything about everything & she is the financial person, not the boat person. She would do herself much more good and give herself much more credibility if she accepted that and accepted the intention of the letter, to give the islands the connectivity they so badly need. It isn’t right or fair for the islanders to to do without that connection or have to put up with an inferior ferry/service, in order to save her – and Scotgovt’s ‘face’.

      It’s also APPALLING that Scotgov have not even had the decency to answer the good Dr. But having said that, it doesn’t surprise me. Scotgov aren’t interested in anything to the good of Scotland or to make things better for the people. It’s all about Scotgov getting what they want – and sod everyone else. How mean-spirited can they be! I know, I know – how long is a piece of string… :-/

      Liked by 9 people

  3. In any truly responsible , accountable , rational Administration this would/should be sufficient to instigate a thorough enquiry , leading to the perpetrators of almost unbelievable levels of incompetence , stubbornly stupid , wrong on every level decision-making being named , shamed and slung-out on their woefully wasteful arses

    But we are not dealing with such an Administration . Instead we have one were failure is the norm , no one is EVER held accountable and mistakes never admitted and rectified : where the sole consideration is the public image of the worse Scottish Gov ever – even previous Unionist Scot/Govs have done less damage to the social/economic/judicial fabric of our country , presided over by the worse FM ever , whose ideological obsessions and arrogance are driving Scotland into an abyss as she wraps herself in the protective coating of entirely bogus victimhood .

    Plotting to send an innocent man to jail potentially for the rest of his life , refusing to stand-up for an actual victim of relentless abuse , leading-on the Independence support with * one more mandate * duplicity , the list goes on …. yet in Sturgeon World none of these things are nearly as heinous as being called a name by some anonymous jerk online , THAT is the worse possible * crime * deserving on the most severe punishment , The * other stuff * ? na , that’s just * Yoon , SNP Bad fake news *

    Aye , right

    Vote SNP 0+0

    Liked by 28 people

    1. As I said in acomment to the earlier article on ferries, I think the line between incompetence and criminal negligence is already passed,
      I am almost incandescent with anger that this can possibly be happening in our countryThis government must go.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Sturgeon keeps shouting that she is ultimately responsible. Is it not time she resigned?
    I have to declare an interest beyond the ferries crises…..I don’t care what brings her down.
    Scotland will be a much better place without her and her Cult.

    Liked by 27 people

  5. If Alba or the ISP isn’t standing where I live, it’ll day a nice day in and waiting for the demise of the New SNP at the council elections. Everything Mr Salmond and the Old SNP did for Scotland is being reversed by the New SNP or bypassed. The New SNP need a new slogan to replace it with Stronger for Britiain and Sturgeon should stand to be PM and the New SNP should stand in England, after all thats where their heart is, because they have new heart for Scottish Independence anymore.

    Liked by 14 people

  6. This offers a solution to the whole Ferry fiasco. They know the fleet needs replaced, they know there will be break downs, they know there will be cancellations. However, to put this right now they would be admitting they got it wrong and the NuSNP don’t do that.
    Here, on offer, is a solution not only to a current problem but to a future problem. This was the Vision of the SNP, show the people that we can govern ourselves and do it better. Then become Independent. Unfortunately, the NuSNP don’t have that vision! Nor do they have people who will promote that vision and take the people with them. This all smacks of Westminsterism!

    Liked by 24 people

  7. How could we get independence with this shower of no-marks in charge? Their best “talent” is at WM, their next best at Holyrood… so heaven help whatever council area gets the new batch of up-and-comers looking to serve some time before it’s “their turn” for a go on the MSP gravy train.

    I keep hearing that there are many good people among them. My definition doesn’t include folk that just keep their mouths shut when they see what’s staring them in the face in case anything they say results in a handbagging from Her Highness and is detrimental to their place at the trough.

    The metamorphosis into Labour is now complete.

    Liked by 25 people

    1. I like this – but can’t add to those already `liking` it, so I’m leaving this comment! I will say that these `good` people have always been in the SNP – and the tragedy is that their status as `good nationalists` and `good politicians` meant that there were very few who challenged them to reveal their political principles or philosophy. Asking questions on these matters was considered presumptious – I know, I tried!

      Liked by 3 people

  8. The problems caused by the ingrained attitudes of CMAL and CaLMac go back in time. I remember reading the book “Who Pays the Ferryman” by Roy Pedersen, nearly a decade ago.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. There can be no “good people” when they sit silent day after day. We need to end that myth
    “To let evil prosper all you need to is nothing…”

    Liked by 25 people

    1. They have to sit quietly as they sign when they become msps to not question or challenge any decision made by scotgov.


      1. Shiv they must also have a lobotomy , an integrity removal operation and an honesty bypass , or maybe it’s just that they are a shower of lying corrupt cowards who like the money and don’t give a shit about starving weans or freezing families or homeless people or cauld and starving pensioners , or EVEN REAL WOMEN

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I know nothing of ferries, shipbuilding nor procurement.

    I do know that we’ve buggered it up.
    By that I mean continually, unquestioningly voting for the party of power.
    We’ve put them in the same position as Labour in the 80’s/90’s and 2000’s – weighing their vote and allowing monkeys with a rosette to be put forward for election.
    There appears to be a nepotistic web of placemen and women occupying very well remunerated positions within Scottish society while more competent people are locked out and ignored.
    I don’t have any solutions apart from starting from scratch by electing politicians who care more about our independence than collecting fat salaries and accruing generous pension pots.
    I’m going to do my bit by voting for the Alba candidate in May. (Alba founding member)
    This following 39 years of voting SNP at all levels.
    Enough is enough.

    Liked by 22 people

    1. For the first time in my voting life I am not going to the polls. There is no Alba or IFS candidate standing Like you I have voted SNP for over fifty years no more. Saor Alba

      Liked by 10 people

      1. May I suggest voting for – and ranking – all of the independents of the ballot paper would at least serve to stop the SNP and avoid giving any credit to unionist parties? Or maybe go and spoil the ballot paper …

        Liked by 8 people

  11. Your Eejit Doctor wrote to Derek MacKay on 11 January? Derek MacKay left the SNP Scottish Government at least 15 Months before 11 January 2022!
    Your Doctor is a Quack!!!
    And I don’t recall Your Anger when The SNP Government Saved the Edinburgh Tram Car fiasco, And the Overrun of the Scottish Parliament Building!
    Both of These Projects, started by the SLieMores, Both Late & Both Way Over Budget!
    Iain, You are just a Bitter Auld Man who Nobody in Power gives a Tartan Duck about!
    Until You go I am going to be At You until You realise that You Are a NoMark!!!


    1. Bill. I do enjoy your comments. The letter is clearly shown as being written in February 2021 and the comment about January 2021 is mentioned in that letter. The only introduction of 2022 is from your fevered mind. The only quack around Bill is the one you see in the mirror. Your quackers!

      Liked by 16 people

      1. Iain as anyone here can testify, you , like Roddy , Stuart C , Angry W ,Grumpy Scot and some others ALL endeavour to research your work and verify authenticity , Bill tosh has shown himself unworthy of rational discussion and quite honestly I wouldn’t be so patient , trolls should just be binned they waste oxygen

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe he can learn from what he reads here from the content and my readers comments. I will give him a little time, if he continues with his juvenile insults he will be a goner.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. If British intelligence were tasked with subverting and stalling independence it couldn’t have created a better model than the current SNP régime. In terms of competence, insight, imagination and understanding of Scotland and its «needs» it fits perfectly within the tame devolved political apparatus.

    Liked by 20 people

  13. History

    In recognition of the uniqueness of the fleet and in order to ensure a level playing field for all bidders, on 1 October 2006 Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd was split into two companies:
    • An asset-owning company, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd
    • A new operating company, CalMac Ferries Ltd
    This was done by Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd transferring its operations, but not its assets, to CalMac Ferries Ltd.Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd, now CMAL, continues to own the vessels and land-based assets (ports, harbours, etc) and makes them available to an operator through an open tendering process.
    Since 1st October 2007, CalMac Ferries Limited (CFL) has operated the services, having won the first and second tendering processes. The original six-year contract was extended in 2013 and following a competitive procurement process in 2015 and 2016, CFL was awarded the contract for a further eight years until 2024.Under the terms of the tender CFL is bound to use the vessels of CMAL.

    I suspect the construction of the above was a typical money making dream. They had hoped privatisation would take place and it would be bonus time for all involved.

    Does the structure outlined in the history above look like a structure suited to deliver a service to the islands?

    Look at the Board of CMAL. Do we need a structure like that sitting between Government and Customer/The Peple.
    It looks like a lucrative job creation scheme to me.

    Liked by 15 people

      1. I think if ordinary folks could get up close and look at the rotten and corrupt state owned business that CMAL is they would be utterly shocked.

        Glad handing fill your boots and those of the chosen ones is very much the order of the day. And all wrapped up with rotten incompetent service CMAL and it’s ferry operating is a good idea gone bad. Of course if you don’t audit, manage, supervise and regulate letting organisations like this go without any proper controls no one should be surprised at what little the public get for their money.

        But it’s not new. Many years ago before the bridge, I used to travel to Skye regularly. And the ferrymen who operated the short crossing came across as some of the best paid men in the area with new cars and money to spend. How much was skimmed in fare cash was the big question.

        Half the fare Mr collector and keep the ticket. Or full fare for the tourist and they didn’t get the ticket. No that would never have happened nearly forty years ago. No sir, not in the culture. Just good old public service as it is today.

        Liked by 5 people

  14. The culture of failure is chiselled in granite.
    Just look at the SNPs Westminster contingent. Experts in highly technical fields are exiled to the backbenches while Politics graduates occupy meaningless, vanity, Spokesperson roles. Shadow Attorney General, ffs, the SNP isn’t even the official opposition. The equivalent of supermarket, stock replenishment executives.
    Holyrood isnae ony better.
    These Politics graduates bring little to nae real life experience of delivering material change in challenging, commercial environments. Their skills such as they are lie in disingenuous presentation, fanatical loyalty (to whom ever currently occupies the throne) and an ability to scale the greasy pole.
    The paranoid, failed solicitor fears anyone with talent, experience and a proven ability to deliver material change.
    An individual’s first career position is instrumental in setting personal attitude and culture. The satisfaction of taking a unique project from design concept through budgeting, tendering, build and commissioning becomes addictive. Deliver the finished article and find a new project to deliver the next buzz.
    I had the great fortune to learn at the feet of the best at Ravenscraig (Tech Dept).
    What have Nicola’s army of humanities graduates in their 20s and 30s learned in their brief “careers” leaching from the State?
    What’s next to come from the production line of Stepford politicians? Ultra-woke graduates of the John Smith Centre for Public Service, courtesy of the ultimate political parasite Kezia Dugdale.
    As of today, the published accounts of the JSCfPS are four years out of date. Still no indication as to who’s funding this political influencing operation.

    Liked by 22 people

    1. “The paranoid, failed solicitor fears anyone with talent, experience and a proven ability to deliver material change.”

      The above description of Nicola Sturgeon is exceptionally concise and phenomenally accurate. Thank you.

      Liked by 14 people

  15. I looked at the WGD site for their comments on the Ferry situation. There was a btl comment pointing them to the article in the National today by Lesley Riddoch article. Here is one response:

    “Not being any kind of authority on vessel types my guess would be heavy deep hulled ships are safer in choppy waters than Floaty McFloatface rafts, but as I say I know nothing about them except I really hate going on any boats in the first place.”

    He takes pride in commenting from his depth of willful ignorance. There was another comment even more ignorant and insulting. I think I have just looked at the WGD site for the last time.

    This whole Ferry situation is desperate and shows the Scottish Government, CMAL and the RMT in a shocking light. I will be writing to my MSP and Kate Forbes for their comments.

    Liked by 12 people

  16. First off, I hope that Kate Forbes reads this site, and considers my advice – the ferries fiasco is not your fight, step back – “… before my time, I would need to take time from pressing commitments to fully investigate etc etc”.

    Give space and time for Sturgeon to find a fall guy.The MSP guy that did a successful job on PPE procurement would be a suitable fall guy, he’s competent, and so a threat.The buck stops with her says Sturgeon, so let her go find herself one.

    Liked by 6 people

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