MV Caledonian Isles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MV Caledonian Isles2.jpg
Arriving in Brodick, May 2019.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: MV Caledonian Isles
Owner: Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited
Operator: Caledonian MacBrayne
Port of registry: Glasgow, United Kingdom
Route: Ardrossan - Brodick
Builder: Richards (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Lowestoft
Yard number: 589
Launched: 25 May 1993
Maiden voyage: 25 August 1993
Status: In service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 5221 gt
Length: 94 m (308 ft)
Beam: 15.8 m (51 ft 10 in)
Draft: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: Bow Thruster: Caterpillar Diesels approx 520 kW (700 hp)
Speed: 15 kn (28 km/h) (service)
Capacity: 1000 passengers, 110 cars
Crew: 26
Notes: [1]

MV Caledonian Isles (Scottish Gaelic: Eileanan Chaledonia) is one of the largest ships owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited. She is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), which runs ferries to the Hebridean and Clyde Islands of Scotland. Caledonian Isles serves the Isle of Arran on the Ardrossan to Brodick route. As it is one of CalMac's busiest routes, Caledonian Isles has the largest passenger capacity in the fleet, and can carry up to 1000 passengers and 110 cars, with a crossing time of 55 minutes. She is used extensively by day-trippers to the Isle of Arran during the summer.

When MV Glen Sannox enters service at the end of 2021,[2][3] Caledonian Isles is expected to become the second summer vessel on the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry crossing.


Modelled on the popular MV Isle of Mull of five years earlier, Caledonian Isles incorporates a fully enclosed car deck with watertight ramps at either end. When closed, the bow ramp seals the car deck and when open, forms the bridge between the ship and the linkspan. The car deck incorporates a set of mezzanine decks, one down each side of the central casing and each divided into three sections. These can be moved up and down to their deployed or stowed positions. When deployed, these allow additional cars to be loaded. If the mezzanine decks are fully deployed there is insufficient height to accommodate lorries and other high vehicles other than at the bow and stern. The central casing means that she can only carry one lane of commercial vehicles down each side of the car deck.[1] The passenger accommodation is similar to that onboard the Mull ship. Forward of the main entrance square is the cafeteria, with stairways leading up to the observation lounge and the outside deck. Aft of the entrance there are lounges down either side with toilet blocks, the shop and a bar lounge further towards the stern. The next deck up has the forward observation lounge at the bow and crew accommodation. An open deck extends right around the vessel on this level, including forward of the observation lounge and overlooking the bow. The upper deck has the bridge and outside seating from the huge red funnel towards the stern. Also on this level are the four enclosed lifeboats – 2 larger and 2 smaller boats mounted on davits.[1] The 2 larger lifeboats were replaced in 2017 to make way for the new marine evacuation system.


Caledonian Isles has only ever operated between Ardrossan and Brodick on Arran.[1] She normally undertakes up to 5 crossings a day in each direction, leaving Ardrossan at 0700, 0945, 1230, 1515 and 1800, and leaving Brodick at 0820, 1105, 1355, 1640 and 1920. The 1920 Saturday departure was removed during the winter 2016/2017 timetable to facilitate a 0820 sailing from Brodick on Sunday, where a crew safety drill has been a normal occurrence since October 2016.

During the period of the summer timetable there is an additional sailing on Friday evenings, leaving Ardrossan at 2030, returning from Brodick at 2140.[4]

Due to the demand for capacity, a second ferry has supplemented the Caledonian Isles during the summer season since 2005. This peak summer service originally operated between June and August however, due to demand, operates from May to September since 2013. The additional service was provided by MV Saturn from 2005 until 2011, and by MV Isle of Arran from 2012. During the summer 2012 period, the capacity was limited to 12 passengers for HGV drivers during the week, whilst a full passenger service was provided on Saturdays. From May to September 2013, MV Isle of Arran could carry its full capacity throughout the week, doubling the service to Arran from Monday to Wednesday. Isle of Arran undertook services from Ardrossan to Campbeltown on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, returning on Friday, Saturday (via Brodick) and Sunday, whilst still operating from Ardrossan to Arran outwith its Campbeltown sailings.[citation needed]

On first coming into service, Caledonian Isles usually berthed overnight at Ardrossan in the summer and at Brodick in the winter timetable.[1] Now[when?], she usually berths overnight at Ardrossan all year.[citation needed] During periods of adverse weather, it is not uncommon for the vessel to berth overnight at Brodick, with either cancellation of the 1920 service from Brodick, or a return to Brodick after the 1920 eastbound sailing. The 0700 sailing from Ardrossan the following morning is then cancelled. During adverse weather conditions, Caledonian Isles has been diverted to Gourock. This happened on 4 January 2012, following storm damage to the linkspan at Ardrossan.[5]

In February 2012, Caledonian Isles was in dry-dock to repair damage sustained in a collision with Winton Pier, Ardrossan. She was relieved by Isle of Arran which was often diverted to Wemyss Bay and Gourock.[citation needed] In February 2014, MV Isle of Arran once again relieved Caledonian Isles after she broke down. In April 2015, MV Isle of Arran had problems with her prop shaft which delayed the introduction of her additional Arran summer sailings, leaving Caledonian Isles to carry all the traffic and run additional sailings at night.

In August 2015, it was announced that two new ferries would be built at Ferguson Marine Engineering at Port Glasgow on the Clyde. The much delayed MV Glen Sannox is expected to serve Arran from late 2021,[2][3] replacing MV Isle of Arran and allowing Caledonian Isles to become the second ferry on the Ardrossan-Brodick and the Ardrossan-Campbeltown crossings.[6] The second new vessel is expected to replace MV Hebrides on the Uig Triangle.[7]

Before heading to Birkenhead for her overhaul in January 2018, she called at Campbeltown to test the berth. The last sailing from the old Brodick pier was the 0820 to Ardrossan on Tuesday 20 March 2018. Caledonian Isles started operating from the new Brodick ferry terminal later that day.[8] The new terminal has two ferry berths: the west side berth and the east side berth.[9]

MV Caledonian Isles docked at Brodick in August 2019

On 16 March 2019 Caledonian Isles rammed the pier at Brodick after her bow thrusters failed, causing significant damage to her bow visor. During her repairs, MV Hebridean Isles took up service on the Arran crossing, while MV Catriona operated a shuttle service from Claonaig to Lochranza to clear the backlog of traffic unable to board the smaller Hebridean Isles at Ardrossan.[10]

In October 2019, Caledonian Isles was diverted to Troon as the linkspans in both Ardrossan and Gourock - the vessel's usual port of diversion - failed, resulting in vehicles being unable to board or alight from the ferry there. During this period, MV Loch Riddon operated additional services from Claonaig to Lochranza. Bad weather prevented Caledonian Isles from berthing in Troon, reducing the service to passenger-only from Ardrossan.[11]

Sailings are met at Ardrossan Harbour by the Abellio ScotRail train service to Glasgow Central.

During the winter season, Caledonian Isles goes for her annual overhaul, and is commonly relieved by MV Isle of Arran, MV Clansman or MV Hebrides. Caledonian Isles has also been relieved by MV Isle of Mull, MV Lord of the Isles and MV Hebridean Isles.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Caledonian Isles". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Costs double on delayed CalMac ferry contract". BBC News. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Ferguson Marine update". Scottish Government. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Timetables". Calmac. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Gourock passengers' anger as Arran ferry is given priority". The Arran Banner. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  6. ^ "New Arran Ferry set to launch next June - government confirms". Ardrossan Herald. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  7. ^ "First Steel Cut on New Ferries". CMAL. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  8. ^ "New Brodick Ferry Terminal Opens To Passengers". CMAL. 21 March 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Brodick Ferry Terminal". CMAL. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Arran ferry crash causes traffic chaos". The Arran Banner. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Technical failure causes major disruption to Arran ferry". BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2019.

External links[edit]