Approaching Uig, Skye on 9 May 2015.
|Name:||MV Hebrides (III)|
|Owner:||Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited|
|Port of registry:||Glasgow|
|Route:||Uig - Tarbert/Lochmaddy|
|Builder:||Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow|
|Launched:||2 August 2000 by HM the Queen|
|Maiden voyage:||24 March 2001|
|Speed:||16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph) (service)|
|Capacity:||612 passengers, 90 cars|
MV Hebrides is a ferry owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and operated by Caledonian MacBrayne from Uig to Lochmaddy and Tarbert - the capital villages of the islands of North Uist and Harris respectively.
The present MV Hebrides revived a traditional name on the "Uig triangle" and is the third vessel of the name in the CalMac fleet over the years. She carries the bell of the first Hebrides (an 1898 steamer) which also graced the second "Heb" (1964). The 1964 ship was MacBrayne's first car ferry and very much a favourite, which for twenty years, also sailed from Uig, Skye.
Following successful sea trials on the Clyde in early 2001, the Hebrides made her way round to Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy, where she conducted berthing trials at the three linkspans. Uig and Tarbert piers had to be specially extended to accommodate this new giant. On entry into service on 24 March 2001 she displaced the MV Hebridean Isles to Islay. Her service speed is 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph), which cuts the crossing times to around 100 minutes and allows three return trips per day.
There were no Sunday sailings to or from Tarbert, so the Hebrides concentrated on serving Lochmaddy on North Uist. The ratio of crossings is something like 2:1 in favour of North Uist. Having the MV Isle of Lewis at Stornoway (serving Lewis and Harris), and in 2003 the introduction of the new MV Loch Portain (making inter-island access easier) have encouraged this trend.
Hebrides brought with her the highest level of passenger comfort ever seen in the fleet. Despite a passenger certificate for around 600, she never feels crowded. Only at peak times does she need to use her mezzanine car deck for extra cars. With a ship of this size on permanent station at Uig, future increases in demand can be met for many years.
Hebrides was due to be replaced on the Uig Triangle in 2019 with a brand new ferry which will be built on the Clyde. The new ferry will be one of two identical sister-ships, the other sister will serve Arran. Which allowing Hebrides to become the second ferry on the Oban-Coll/Tiree & Castlebay-Lochboisdale route, to partner the ferry MV Clansman.
MV Hebrides' design is very similar to that of her half-sister, MV Clansman of 1998. There is an increased amount of open deck space, the majority of it being covered. She was the first vessel of the fleet to be equipped with a Marine Evacuation System of inflatable chutes leading to large liferafts in place of conventional lifeboats. Following simulations and the success of the Clansman’s design, her hull incorporates fewer gaps for water to escape from the car deck.
The Hebrides loads vehicles via a stern ramp at Uig and through her bow at the two Outer Isles ports. Like the Clansman, she has an open stern, allowing her to carry hazardous goods whilst still carrying foot passengers. The car deck has room for approximately 80 cars. A mezzanine deck on the starboard side can be raised or lowered to allow loading of eighteen more cars.
The entrance lobby has the shop and information desk. Forward are a lounge and Mariners Cafeteria at the bow. Aft is the Chieftain Bar and open deck area. On the deck above are an observation lounge at the bow, crew accommodation and further open deck.
MV Hebrides is normally found sailing from Uig on Skye to Tarbert and Lochmaddy and rarely sailed anywhere else in her early service life. One notable exception was during closure of the Uig linkspan, when she sailed from Ullapool for a period of a week or so. At the time she was in company with Clansman which was relieving on the Ullapool crossing. Similarly, when the linkspan at Lochmaddy was closed for repairs, Hebrides made use of the facilities of Lochboisdale in South Uist. During the spring of 2007 the ship was converted to burn oil and was trialed on the Oban to Coll, Tiree and Barra and South Uist services. Her sister, Clansman soon arrived back and Hebrides spent another 5 years never deviating from her route except when she required an annual overhaul which was usually done either in Greenock, Aberdeen, Leith or Birkenhead.
In August 2012, CalMac announced that Hebrides was to be the main relief vessel for the upcoming winter period, a role which had usually been assigned to her sister Clansman. The Islay ferry Finlaggan was chosen as Hebrides' replacement at Uig, Lochmaddy and Tarbert from 1 December. In December 2012, Hebrides relieved Isle of Mull on the Oban to Craignure and Colonsay services, as well as running extra services to Coll, Tiree, Barra and South Uist over the festive season. In January 2013, Hebrides relieved Caledonian Isles on the Ardrossan to Brodick service, and in February relieved Isle of Lewis on the Ullapool to Stornoway service. Hebrides then relieved Clansman on the Outer Isles services in March, before finally returning to the Uig, Lochmaddy & Tarbert triangle after her own overhaul, before the summer timetable commenced in March 2013. In October 2013, she made an unexpected return to Stornoway to relieve the broken-down Isle of Lewis, which went into drydock for propeller shaft problems. In July 2015, this situation was reversed, when Hebrides suffered a breakdown leading to her visiting Stornoway for repairs for two days, with Isle of Lewis taking over her Uig, Lochmaddy & Tarbert triangle until she was repaired.
- Hebrides collided with pontoons and then ran aground at Lochmaddy on 25 September 2016, after apparently suffering engine difficulties. It was reported that the vessel became stuck in forward gear and remained in gear after running aground. The vessel later managed to dock and disembark the passengers and vehicles aboard. Caledonian MacBrayne reported that the hull was intact and that divers were en route to inspect the damage. Following inspection, Hebrides was moved to Greenock for drydocking and repairs. Meanwhile Clansman was transferred to Uig to take over the route, with Isle of Lewis providing an additional sailing from Lochmaddy to Uig to clear the backlog of traffic. Hebrides returned to service on 17 October 2016.
- "MV Hebrides". Ships of CalMac. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- "Ships Index: H5". World Shipping Register. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- McCrorie, Ian. CalMac Ferries. CalMac. ISBN 0-9507166-7-7.
- "History of MV Hebrides". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
- "Ferguson Yard Wins New Ferry Order". Clyde 1. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Dedicated ferries for Uig triangle during winter". Island News and Advertiser. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "CalMac ferry runs aground in Lochmaddy harbour crash". BBC. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
- "Lochmaddy harbour crash ferry sent to Greenock for repairs.". BBC. 27 September 2016.
- "CalMac plans for loss of MV Hebrides". The Oban Times. 2016-09-28. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
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