MV Caledonian Isles

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MV Caledonian Isles.JPG
Caledonian Isles approaching Brodick, June 2015.
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, Lowestoft
Yard number: 589
Launched: 25 May 1993
Maiden voyage: 25 August 1993
Status: In service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 5221 gt
Length: 94 m
Beam: 15.8 m
Draft: 3.2 m
Propulsion: Bow Thruster: Caterpillar Diesels approx 700HP
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) (service)
Capacity: 1000 passengers, 110 cars
Crew: 26
Notes: [1]

MV Caledonian Isles 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.

She is expected to be joined by MV Glen Sannox in early 2019, replacing MV Isle of Arran and allowing Caledonian Isles to become the second ferry on the Ardrossan-Brodick/Campbeltown route.


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.[2]

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.[2]


Caledonian Isles has only operated between Ardrossan and Brodick on Arran.[3] 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, 1350, 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 in recent years, a second ferry has supplemented the Caledonian Isles during the summer season. This peak summer service originally operated between June and August but, due to demand, operates from May to September as of 2013. Between 2005 and 2011, the additional service was provided by MV Saturn, however this was changed to MV Isle of Arran in 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. The 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.[3] Now, 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. During this time, MV Isle of Arran 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, which meant Caledonian Isles had to carry all her traffic and run additional sailings at night.

In August 2015, it was announced that 2 brand new ferries would be built on the Clyde. The new ferries will be identical sister-ships: MV Glen Sannox will serve Arran on the Ardrossan-Brodick route and the second will replace MV Hebrides on the Uig Triangle. Glen Sannox will replace MV Isle of Arran in early 2019, allowing Caledonian Isles to become the second ferry on the Ardrossan-Brodick/Campbeltown route.[6]

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

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 in recent years by MV Isle of Mull, MV Lord of the Isles and MV Hebridean Isles.


  1. ^ "Caledonian Isles". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Fleet History". Ships of Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  3. ^ a b "History: Caledonian Isles". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Timetables". Calmac. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  5. ^ "Gourock passengers’ anger as Arran ferry is given priority". The Arran Banner. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "First Steel Cut on New Ferries". CMAL. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 

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