It has been announced today (8 November 2022) that the first new Mersey Ferry in more than 60 years has been commissioned.
The announcement made by Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said that the multi-million project will “ensure that the iconic Ferry Cross the Mersey will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The historic Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead will likely be used to build the state-of-the-art vessel, creating jobs, apprenticeships, and development opportunities available for the region.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:
“The Mersey Ferries are not only a vital transport link between communities in the Liverpool City Region, they’re also an important part of our identity.
“They’re well-loved by both residents and tourists alike, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to our area each year. But, as the current vessels are older than the Gerry and the Pacemakers song that helped make them world famous, they are becoming harder and harder to maintain and definitely in need of an upgrade.
“We’re making a significant investment in one brand new greener, more energy efficient and one upgraded vessel to ensure that the iconic Ferry Cross the Mersey will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.
“It’s fantastic news for the region, and a fitting way to continue the legacy of Gerry Marsden and the Mersey Ferries. There have been boats crossings the Mersey since the 12th century and, thanks to our investment, here they’ll stay…”
Last year, the Combined Authority took the decision to pause the procurement process for a new vessel due to market pressures resulting from both Brexit and COVID.
However, following further conversations with bidders a solution has been found that will enable a modern, greener new ferry to be commissioned.
The new ferry will be designed to provide passengers with greater comfort, accessibility and an overall improved experience, in line with feedback received during consultation in 2018. There are also plans for extensive upgrade works on one of the existing vessels, to boost its performance and reliability.
Focusing on the Mersey Ferries’ popularity as a major visitor attraction, it will be used for a variety of events and river cruises while also maintaining its role as a key part of the Liverpool City Region public transport system.
Janette Williamson, leader of Wirral Council and Deputy Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:
“It’s fantastic news that there will be a brand new Mersey Ferry, and that is set to be built here on the Wirral.
“This decision will bring huge benefits to the Liverpool City Region whilst safeguarding the vital cross-river link the ferries provide for generations to come.”
Subject to contract, it is expected that the project will see Wirral-based shipbuilders Cammell Laird work with Dutch naval engineering firm Damen on the build of a new Mersey Ferry.
Shipbuilders Cammell Laird have a long heritage with Mersey Ferries, having built 15 of the vessels dating back to 1836 as well as well as helping to maintain the current fleet.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, Damen are one of the largest naval engineering firms in the world, operating 35 shipyards across five continents.
The potential collaboration between the two companies should help deliver employment and development opportunities for workers in the city region, as well as tapping into international expertise and delivering value for money for local taxpayers.
David McGinley, Chief Executive of Cammell Laird said:
“Cammell Laird have long been a proud part of the Mersey Ferries story and would be delighted for this to continue into the future. We are very close to agreeing the final contract arrangements and look forward to helping to deliver a new Mersey Ferryfor the people of our city region.”
The building of a new ferry and upgrade works to one of the existing vessels are the latest investments made by the Combined Authority as part of its 20-year Mersey Ferries strategy, with others including the multi million pound upgrade works at Seacombe Ferry Terminal and funding for the Eureka! Science + Discovery attraction.
This agreement is subject to final negotiations and contract award.
READ MORE: Mersey Ferries services return to Seacombe after 2 years