MV Isle of Lewis

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Eilean Leodhais.jpg
MV Isle of Lewis in Loch Broom
Career (UK) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: MV Isle of Lewis
Namesake: Lewis
Owner: Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited
Operator: Caledonian MacBrayne
Port of registry: Glasgow
Route: Stornoway to Ullapool
Ordered: 22 September 1993
Builder: Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow
Yard number: 608[1]
Laid down: 23 February 1994
Launched: 18 April 1995
Christened: by Princess Alexandra, The Hon Lady Ogilvy
Completed: 26 July 1995
Maiden voyage: 31 July 1995[2]
Identification: IMO number: 9085974
MMSI number: 232002521
Callsign: MVNP4
Status: in service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 6,753 GT
Length: 101.25 metres (332.2 ft)[1]
Beam: 18.52 metres (60.8 ft)[1]
Draught: 4.19 metres (13.7 ft)[1]
Propulsion: 2 x Mirrlees Blackstone K6 Major, 2 x Ulstein 1500 AGSC gearboxes
Speed: 18.0 knots (20.7 mph)[3] (service)
Capacity: 680 passengers, 123 cars[3]
Crew: 32

MV Isle of Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Leòdhais) is a Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited owned ferry operated between Ullapool and Stornoway by Caledonian MacBrayne. She is currently their only ship over 100 metres (328 ft) in length.


MV Isle of Lewis was built by Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow on the Clyde and entered service in 1995. To date, she is the largest ship ever built by Ferguson's. Her crossing time was very impressive – around 2 hours and 45 minutes - at least 45 minutes off the duration of her predecessor, MV Suilven.

With ever increasing traffic on the crossing, there have been a number of rumours in recent years that she will be replaced by an even larger vessel. Currently a chartered freight vessel, MV Clipper Ranger is relieving pressure. On 10 June 2012, it was announced that a new £42 million replacement ferry is to be built in Germany.[4] The new 116 metre long ROPAX ferry, to be called Loch Seaforth, will be capable of operating 24/7 and will have a capacity for up to 700 passengers, and 143 cars or 20 commercial vehicles. Loch Seaforth is due to be delivered in June 2014 and will take over both passenger and freight duties on the route.[5] It is planned that Isle of Lewis is retained as a backup for a period of time.[citation needed]


MV Isle of Lewis is a further development of the MV Isle of Mull and MV Caledonian Isles' design with a fully enclosed car deck. The car deck is accessed by bow and stern ramps, the latter being offset from the centre of the ship to accommodate the linkspan in Ullapool. The bow ramp is a folding design that is watertight and further protected by a conventional upward hinging bow visor.

There are three lanes to port and two to starboard of the central casing. A hydraulically operated mezzanine deck along each side can be raised or lowered according to traffic requirements. Two stairways from the car deck bring passengers out in the entrance square on deck 4, where the passenger gangways enter.[2]

The entrance square houses the information desk, gift shop and display of locally produced giftware. Forward is a massive cafeteria overlooking the bow and occupying the full width of the ship. Aft are a designated dog area and a truckers' quiet lounge, with the reclining lounge and bar at the stern. Deck 5 houses the observation lounge at the bow, crew accommodation further aft and an open promenade deck stretching down both sides of the ship. Four stairways lead up to the open top deck, providing copious amounts of seating for those passengers either taking advantage of the summer sun, or more often for those brave souls taking on the Atlantic gales.[2]

The upper works of the ship are completed with two raked funnels in red and black company colours and two buff coloured masts. The smaller mast is on top of the wheelhouse and carries the twin radar scanners and radio antennae, while the larger mast is mounted aft on the promenade deck, carrying antennae and the house flag. During the winter refit in 2009, the funnels were fitted with angled exhaust extensions on the funnel tops to direct engine exhaust away from the decks. The ship carries a fast rescue craft and two large motor driven lifeboats, one to port and one to starboard, with a set of automatically deploying inflatable life rafts


MV Isle of Lewis took over the Ullapool to Stornoway (Isle of Lewis) crossing from MV Suilven in July 1995. She has hardly sailed on any other route. She has to endure some treacherous seas crossing The Minch, which is one of the most exposed areas around the British Isles.

Although she has never sailed on any other route other than her own, Isle of Lewis has briefly called at other stations over the years. These include collecting supplies at Ardrossan, and berthing trials at Uig, Lochmaddy and Tarbert respectively, all of which she visited in July 1995, prior to entering service. [2] In addition, she carried out special charters for the Ministry of Defence to and from Lochmaddy in 1998. She has also called at Oban on two occasions, in 2006 and 2011, for bunkering purposes. She also called at Stromness, despite it not being a Calmac destination, in November 1998 to show the flag to the Orcadians during the Northern Isles bidding process of the late 1990s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "MV Isle of Lewis". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "History : MV Isle of Lewis". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "MV Isle of Lewis". Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "'Greener and faster' ferry ordered for Stornoway-Ullapool route". BBC News. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Name chosen for replacement Stornoway Ullapool ferry". CMAL. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 

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