Harbour News 21st October – 18th November

38 arrivals for the period

Whitefish totalled 6250 boxes from two Scottish and nine Anglo-Spanish landings. The Inverness- registered Adventurer landed a very good shot of monkfish and haddock from Rockall despite some tough weather and finished his trip by making a further landing of haddocks from Butt of Lewis grounds. The Anglo line fleet have returned from their breaks and continue to fish the shelf edge for hake. The freezer netter vessels Brisan and Eder Sands working deeper water landed excellent shots of frozen processed monkfish and deepwater crab.

Shellfish landings have been very steady with the offshore crabbers visiting weekly. The Inverness- registered scallop dredger Georgia Dawn made four landings of clams from local waters. The Stornoway prawn fleet made eleven landings and the local fleet worked away. Congratulations and good luck to local fisherman Ruairidh Macgregor on the purchase of the twin rig trawler Headway UL 3; great to see this level of investment despite the legislative difficulties that fishermen face.

The non fishing sector was very quiet with only two fishfarm support vessels laying over for the period.

The 2015 Harbour Calendar in aid of local student Tall Ships training programmes is in Ullapool shops and selling very well.  We’ve also set up a paypal account on our website www.ullapool-harbour.co.uk which allows you to purchase this great Christmas gift online! The Dutch schooner Wylde Swan has confirmed that she will return to Ullapool to undertake a series of adventure voyages from 4th – 21st July 2015; see harbour website for more details.

 Ferry Works

Ullapool Harbour Trust would like to take the opportunity to clear up some recent confusion in the media about the current works being undertaken at the harbour to upgrade ferry infrastructure and replace the Linkspan.

In 2010, UHT carried out a Strategic Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) in accordance with Transport Scotland funding guidelines. The resulting report identified that the preferred options for upgrading the infrastructure included; pier lengthening, fender upgrade, replacement passenger access gangway, increased terminal capacity, increased car park capacity and replacement Linkspan.

Following this, an application was made to Transport Scotland for funding and we were able to secure significant financial contributions, which have so far totalled over £10m. Given budget constraints following the significant squeeze on the public finances by the UK Government, the Linkspan was deemed a bridge too far and was shelved until additional funding became available.

Good progress has been and is being made.  To date we have:

  • Completed the much needed car park extension and heavy goods hook-up points (80 additional car marshalling spaces and 6 hook-ups) completed in 2012.
  • Installed the caisson pier extension on 15 June 2014 at which stage Ullapool was ready to serve the new ferry Loch Seaforth. The caisson option was a first for lifeline ferry pier construction.  The installation was done between the Isle of Lewis Saturday and Sunday afternoon ferry arrivals to avoid any service disruption. Whilst it was the much more expensive option, it was chosen to eliminate any disruption of the scheduled ferry service over the winter build period and this was successfully achieved.  This avoided a closure period of up to 3 months and we successfully made the case to Transport Scotland to cover the added £2m cost of the caisson option.
  • Fitted the new fenders designed to absorb the 70% increase in deadweight between the Isle of Lewis and Loch Seaforth. The new fender line has impacted on the ability of other Calmac vessels to discharge heavy goods vehicles at the berth but given the design and weight of Loch Seaforth no other engineering option was available.
  • Installed the new passenger access gangway which was certified operational on 25 September.
  • The terminal building continues apace with a scheduled completion date of January 2015.

Having completed all key phases of construction on time, UHT was approached by Transport Scotland and Calmac and asked to consider replacing the Linkspan with immediate effect as sufficient funding had been secured. The new two-lane Linkspan has clear benefits – it will be quieter and more efficient.  For customers this is great news as it is also expected to reduce turnaround times and will increase the resilience of the ferry service by enabling all the major Calmac vessels to provide a full ferry service to all traffic, particularly HGVs.

All those involved discussed this additional piece of work at length and the decision was taken to put the work out to tender. UHT tendered the works which commenced on 3 November with an anticipated completion date of early April 2015 prior to the 2015 summer season, including a 4-6 week closure period from 22 February to 7 April.

Transport Scotland and Calmac have timed this project to minimise disruption and UHT will work towards this by carrying out the works to the best of our ability to achieve that aim. The berth is ready for and can accommodate the new ferry Loch Seaforth with immediate effect.

The works to date have been completed with NO impact to scheduled ferry services, on time and on budget.  This is testament to a well managed project by UHT and CMAL supported by an excellent team of engineers and contractors. The 42-year old Linkspan had to be replaced soon with inevitable closure of the port to vehicle-ferry traffic.  While these works will bring some short-term traffic and noise disruption to the local community, we are working as hard and quickly as possible to ensure the whole process is completed speedily.

Further good news is that the new ferry Loch Seaforth made her maiden call to Ullapool on 12 November 2014; the vessel berthed both bow and stern in. Heavy goods vehicles were successfully loaded and unloaded over the Linkspan with no issues. The new passenger access gangway fitted the ship stern in with officers and crew coming ashore for the first time. The passenger access gangway bow-in option was not fully tested as the ship cannot currently berth far enough forward until such time as the new Linkspan is in place. While all parties involved appreciate that there will be short-term disruption from these works, the end result will be a £70M plus investment in the Ullapool to Stornoway lifeline ferry service. This record level of investment is very much appreciated, particularly given the austere economic climate we currently endure, and ensures Ullapool’s continuing role as a key ferry port and transport hub with the associated benefits that this brings to the community.