The Scottish government has bought two freight ferries to strengthen the fleet of the state-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL).
The sister vessels, MV Helliar and MV Hildasay, serve the Northern Isles network from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, Orkney and Lerwick.
The 1997- and 1999-built ships had previously been chartered from Fortress, but a formal deal has been completed and they will now join the CMAL fleet.
The purchase price of the two 122-meter ferries was not revealed.
“This deal secures the future of the freight ferries, strengthening lifeline ferry provision for Orkney and Shetland,” Kevin Hobbs, chief executive of CMAL, said.
“It follows our purchase earlier in this financial year of three passenger vessels serving the Northern Isles, bringing the entire fleet of NorthLink ferries under our ownership.”
The previously-acquired passenger ferries are the MV Hjaltland, MV Hrossey and MV Hamnavoe, which operate on the Orkney and Shetland routes.
“Purchasing the vessels outright will also bring financial benefits by delivering savings to the public purse over the longer term,” Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, commented.