Cemre Marin Endustri was today named the preferred bidder for the order against three other yards by Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth, which will increase vehicle capacity by almost 40%.
The first vessel is expected to be delivered by October 2024 and will enter service after sea trials and crew familiarization, which normally take several months, with the second vessel to follow in early 2025.
They will each carry up to 100 standard-size cars and 450 passengers, with carbon emissions expected to be 30% lower than the largest of today’s ships on the roads.
A further £25m will be spent upgrading the ports.
Several former large CalMac ferries have been built overseas, including Islay’s latest new ship, MV Finlaggan, which was completed in Poland in 2011.
CalMac’s newest large ferry, the MV Loch Seaforth, which operates on the Ullapool-Stornoway route, was built in Germany in 2014.
Two new CalMac ferries for the islands will not be built in Scotland
Ms Gilruth said: “These routes are among the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network and the new vessels will help grow the island’s economy, as well as build the resilience of the fleet.
“This underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to establishing new ferries to support our island communities.
“We want to continue to see progress in bringing ships into service on time and on budget.”
The minister said the order was part of Transport Scotland’s current £580m plan to boost ferries.
Transport Scotland said the overall cost of the ships and related port infrastructure works, including project management and delivery costs, would be around £130m, of which around £105m would be for the ships and £25 million for ports.
CalMac Managing Director Robbie Drummond said, “We are very excited to welcome these two new vessels to the CalMac fleet.
“It will help us provide a service that we can all be proud of.”