The Scottish Government has selected Ferguson Marine Engineering (FMEL) as the preferred bidder to build two ferries for the Caledonian Maritime Assets’ (CMAL) fleet.

CMAL is a wholly-owned public corporation that owns ferries, ports, harbours and infrastructure. It provides ferry services to the West Coast of Scotland and the Firth of Clyde.

The proposed deal will be finalised following a procurement process and the £97m contract will be subject to an agreement on final terms and conditions.

The contract is expected to create new jobs and retain an existing workforce of around 150 at Ferguson shipyard.

FMEL will design, construct, test, launch and deliver the vessels.

Scotland Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay said: "This is a significant investment that proves Scottish shipbuilding can succeed in a competitive market, with the FMEL team submitting the highest quality bid that offered best value for money.

"The vessels themselves will be ‘dual-fuel ferries’, allowing them to use cleaner fuel."

"The vessels themselves will be ‘dual-fuel ferries’, allowing them to use cleaner fuel and future-proofing them for the advent of tighter regulations around sulphur emissions."

Designed to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine diesel, the ferries are said to be the largest commercial vessels to be built on the Clyde since 2001.

FMEL is expected to deliver the first vessel in early 2018, and the second a few months later.

Image: The MV Finlaggan passing the Paps of Jura. Photo: courtesy of CMAssets.