MV Hamnavoe

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MV Hamnavoe at Scrabster Harbour
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
NamesakeThe old Viking name for Stromness, meaning safe harbour
  • 2002-2004: NorthLink Orkney & Shetland Ferries Limited
  • 2004-2012: RBS - RBSSAF (20) Limited
  • 2012-2018: previous owner renamed Northern Isles Ferries Limited
  • 2018-present: Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited
OperatorNorthLink Ferries
Port of registryKirkwall, UK
RouteScrabster to Stromness, Orkney
BuilderAker Finnyards, Rauma, Finland
Yard number440
Laid down27 November 2001 (metal cutting)[2]
LaunchedJune 2002 (float-out)[1]
  • 19 October 2002[4]
  • by Mrs Linda Harcus
In service23 April 2003[3]
StatusIn service
General characteristics
TypeRoll on/Roll Off Passenger Ferry
  • 8,780 GT
  • 2,634 NT
Displacement5,350 tons
Length112 m (367 ft)[5]
Beam18.5 m (61 ft)
Draught4.4 m (14 ft)
Installed power2 × MaK 9M32C, each 4,340 kW (5,820 bhp)
PropulsionControllable pitch propellers
Speed19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)
  • 600 passengers
  • 450 lane meters; 95 cars

MV Hamnavoe is a car and passenger ferry, built in 2002 and operated by NorthLink Ferries across the Pentland Firth from the mainland of Scotland to the Orkney Islands.


The ship, with a length of 112 m (367 ft) and beam 18.5 m (61 ft), measures 8,780 GT. Hamnavoe has a capacity for 600 passengers and 68 cars.[5] Facilities include passenger lounges and bars, a self-service restaurant, a children's playroom, a sun deck and a games room. There are 16 passenger cabins with two or four berths, which are all en-suite. There are two specially-adapted cabins for the disabled and wheelchair access throughout the ship.

Hamnavoe is powered by twin MaK 9M32C diesels, totalling 8,680 kW (11,640 bhp) and resulting in a service speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)


Hamnavoe is the first ferry to have been specifically built for the Pentland Firth route[citation needed], and was given the old Norse name for Stromness, meaning 'Home Port' or 'Safe Haven'.[4] The ship was originally ordered in October 2000 from Ferguson Shipbuilders at Port Glasgow but Fergusons withdrew from the contract only two months later due to design arrangements and production scheduling.[6][7] The construction was re-allocated to Aker Finnyards at Rauma, Finland which had already been awarded contracts for two larger ferries for NorthLink.[8]

The ship was the third vessel in Aker's build sequence, after MV Hjaltland and the MV Hrossey, and was completed in October 2002. However, due to delays in the building of the new pier in Scrabster, Hamnavoe was laid up in Leith.[9] Since 2003 the formal ownership of Hamnavoe has changed in line with changes in the operator of NorthLink. Since 2018 the ferry has been registered to Caledonian Marine Assets Limited, and operated by Serco.[10][11]


Hamnavoe was introduced on the Pentland Firth lifeline ferry service between Scrabster in Caithness and Stromness in Orkney in 2003. The voyage takes approximately 90 minutes and is made up to six times a day. Overnight accommodation is available on board in Stromness for passengers travelling on the 6.30am sailing.

The route gives a superb view of the spectacular sea stack the Old Man of Hoy, and the tallest vertical cliff face in Britain, St Johns Head.

New piers and walkways have been built at Scrabster and Stromness specifically for Hamnavoe, and fitted with lifts to accommodate disabled passengers.

Volcanic ash cloud[edit]

In April 2010 as the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland closed much of Europe's airspace, Hamnavoe was taken off her normal route for three days and sent to Bergen in Norway to rescue stranded British residents. More than 150 passengers[12] took the 18-hour trip from Bergen to Aberdeen. On returning to her usual route, Hamnavoe made an unscheduled trip from Aberdeen to Stromness in Orkney carrying passengers.[13]


  1. ^ "Hamnavoe 'Floats Out' on Schedule". NorthLink Ferries. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Another Landmark in NorthLink Ferry Construction Programme". NorthLink Ferries. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  3. ^ "Hamnavoe takes centre stage before entering service". Orkney News. 14–20 April 2003. Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Hamnavoe Named in Home Port of Stromness". NorthLink Ferries. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  5. ^ a b "M.V. Hamnavoe". Ships of Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  6. ^ "Ferry contract for shipyard". BBC News. 31 October 2000. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Clyde yard pulls out of £21m deal". The Herald, Scotland. Herald & Times Group. 13 December 2000. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  8. ^ Hine, Lucy (22 December 2000). "Aker Finnyards wins ferry contract". TradeWinds. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  9. ^ Fleming, Diarmaid (3 October 2002). "New Orkney ferry awaits delayed harbour completion". New Civil Engineer. EMAP Publishing Ltd, London. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Northern Isles Ferries Ltd". CompanyCheck. Company Check Ltd, Nottingham. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Serco confirmed as Northern Isles ferry operator". BBC News. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Ferry arrives to beat volcano chaos as flights resume". BBC News. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  13. ^ "Special bus service to meet Hamnavoe". Orkney Today. Retrieved 22 April 2010.

External links[edit]