MV Hebrides

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MV Hebrides 2019.jpg
Approaching Tarbert, Harris from Uig, Skye, 4 May 2019.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
NameMV Hebrides (III)
OwnerCaledonian Maritime Assets Limited
OperatorCaledonian MacBrayne
Port of registryGlasgow
RouteUig - Tarbert/Lochmaddy
BuilderFerguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow
Yard number708
Launched2 August 2000 by HM The Queen[2]
Maiden voyage24 March 2001
StatusIn service
General characteristics
Tonnage5,506 gt
Length99 m (325 ft)
Beam15.8 m (51 ft 10 in)
Draught3.22 m (10 ft 7 in)
  • 2 × MAK 8 M32, Gear Box: 2 × Ulstein 1500 AGSC
  • Bow Thruster: 2 × Electric Ulstein 90TV, each thrust 7.0 tf (69 kN) thrust
Speed16.5 kn (31 km/h) (service)
Capacity612 passengers, 90 cars

MV Hebrides (Scottish Gaelic: Innse Gall) is a ferry owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and operated by Caledonian MacBrayne from Uig to Lochmaddy and Tarbert, the main settlements of North Uist and Harris respectively.


The present MV Hebrides revived a traditional name on the "Uig Triangle" and is the third vessel in the CalMac fleet to have borne that name 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[who?], which for twenty years also sailed from Uig, Skye.[3]

Following sea trials on the Clyde in early 2001, Hebrides made her way round to Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy, conducting berthing trials at the three linkspans. Uig and Tarbert piers had to be extended to accommodate the new, larger vessel. On entry into service on 24 March 2001 she displaced MV Hebridean Isles to Islay.[3] 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.[2]

There were no Sunday sailings to or from Tarbert, so Hebrides concentrated on serving Lochmaddy on North Uist. The ratio of crossings is approximately 2:1 in favour of North Uist. Having 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.[2]

Hebrides is due to be replaced on the Uig Triangle by a new ferry, one of two dual-fuel vessels being built at Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow on the Clyde.[4] After much delay, the new ferry, known as Hull 802, is expected to be named by public vote, with delivery due in early 2023.[5][6]


MV Hebrides' design is very similar to that of the 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.[2]

The Hebrides loads vehicles via a stern ramp at Uig and through the bow at the two Outer Isles ports. Like the Clansman, there is 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.[2]


Hebrides was the main winter relief vessel over the 2012/13 period, with the Stornoway to Ullapool service being one of the routes she covered. She is seen loading at Stornoway linkspan on 6 October 2013, during an unexpected second relief stint there, in place of the broken-down Isle of Lewis.

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 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 used the facilities at Lochboisdale in South Uist. During the spring of 2007 the ship was converted to burn oil, and was trialled on the Oban to Coll, Tiree and Barra and South Uist services. Her sister, Clansman, soon returned, and Hebrides spent another five years never deviating from her route except for her annual overhaul, which was usually done either at Greenock, Aberdeen, Leith or Birkenhead.

In August 2012, CalMac announced that Hebrides was to be the main relief vessel for the next winter, 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 started 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 became a relief vessel for January and February 2016, with her regular duties being covered by MV Hebridean Isles and MV Isle of Arran.[7]

Hebrides was granted special dispensation by the MCA to continue operating after her passenger safety certificate ran out in 2018. Her annual overhaul had been delayed while she deputised for Clansman, whose propulsion system had been damaged on entering dry dock.[8] In September 2018, Hebrides operated to Stornoway whilst the pier at Tarbert was occupied by the damaged Norwegian freighter Fame.[9]

Incident in 2016[edit]

On 1 October 2016 Hebrides was taken into the Garvel dry dock, Greenock, for inspection and repairs.

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. Calmac reported that the hull was intact and that divers were en route to inspect the damage.[10] Following inspection, Hebrides was moved to Greenock for drydocking and repairs.[11] 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.[12] Hebrides returned to service on 17 October 2016.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hebrides- IMO: 9211975". ShipSpotting. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "MV Hebrides". Ships of CalMac. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b McCrorie, Ian. CalMac Ferries. CalMac. ISBN 0-9507166-7-7.
  4. ^ "Ferguson Yard Wins New Ferry Order". Clyde 1. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Costs double on delayed CalMac ferry contract". BBC News. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Ferguson Marine update". Scottish Government. 25 August 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Dedicated ferries for Uig triangle during winter". Island News and Advertiser. 7 October 2015. Archived from the original on 12 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Cal Mac considers chartering ships to strengthen fleet". Hebrides News. 29 April 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Harris ferry service starts again". We Love Stornoway. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  10. ^ "CalMac ferry runs aground in Lochmaddy harbour crash". BBC. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Lochmaddy harbour crash ferry sent to Greenock for repairs". BBC. 27 September 2016.
  12. ^ "CalMac plans for loss of MV Hebrides". The Oban Times. 28 September 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2016.

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