Construction starts on third hybrid ferry
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has marked the start of construction of Scotland's third hybrid ferry.
Ms Sturgeon cut the first steel during a visit to Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) on the River Clyde.
The £12.3m contract to build the new vessel, known as Hull 727, was awarded in September.
It is Ferguson's first major contract since it was rescued from closure by Clyde Blowers Capital earlier this year.
Ms Sturgeon said: "This investment by the Scottish government is a vote of confidence in our shipbuilding industry, and shows that Scotland remains at the forefront of ferry design and innovation.
"We want our ferries to be sustainable and reliable. This new vessel will be fuel efficient and have lower maintenance costs, whilst ensuring a quality service for passengers."
The new vessel is expected to be launched in spring 2016, before entering service in the autumn of that year.
It will use a low carbon hybrid system, that combines traditional diesel power with electric battery power.
It will be built to accommodate 150 passengers, 23 cars or two HGVs, with a service speed of nine knots.
The Scottish government investment, which is being taken forward by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), secured about 80 jobs.
Clyde Blowers Capital chief executive and chairman Jim McColl said: "This is a great day for Ferguson Marine, for the workforce, Port Glasgow and commercial ship building on the Clyde.
"When we acquired the company three months ago I said that I believed there was a great opportunity to grow the business,
I'm even more convinced of that now."
CMAL will hold a competition in the New Year to decide the name of the new vessel.
MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar are currently in service with Calmac Ferries Ltd.
The Hallaig was launched in December 2012 and operates on the Sconser-Raasay route.
The Lochinvar was launched in May last year and operates between Tarbert and Portavadie.