The current vessel on the Gourock-Kilcreggan ferry link, the Seabus, was designed for Clyde Marine Motoring specifically for sailing on the lower part of the Clyde.
Its dimensions are: Length: 20m. Beam: 6.2m Draught: 1.6m
Gerry Gaffney, who represents the Faslane and Coulport workers using the ferry to commute, has said that Clyde Marine chose not to make the Seabus a smaller vessel.
“However, with over 30 years experience of sailing vessels on the lower part of the Clyde, they were fully aware that a smaller vessel wouldn’t be reliable as it would struggle against the strong estuarial currents so common on the lower part of the Clyde,” he said.
“This aspect coupled with the adverse weather conditions so normal during the Winter period requires the SEABUS to use every millimetre of its 1.6m rraught during the winter period.”
He added that the Argyll Ferries boats which run between Gourock and Dunoon have a draught of 1.7m and 1.4m.
In contrast, the dimensions of the Island Princess dimensions are: Length: 13.7m. Beam: 5.0m Draught 1m.
The Seabus was built to EU Directive for Domestic Passenger Vessels (EU Directive 98/18), but Mr Gaffney has pointed out that the Island Princess was built to Merchant Shipping Notice 1699 (M) Class 4 (possibly 5) – a significantly lower standard than the Seabus.
“The Merchant Shipping Notice 1699 (M) Class 4 (possibly 5) has nothing whatsoever to do with the stability of a vessel – something SPT have real difficulty in understanding,” he added, stressing that a vessel’s beam and draught are extremely important for a vessel’s stability in adverse weather – and after the gales in May 2011 it is clear that this isn’t just a problem in the winter.
He warned that the new service would be significantly inferior to the current one, and that SPT should be aware of its duty of care to passengers, including young children.