MV Isle of Arran

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MV Isle of Arran, 22 October 2017.jpg
Leaving Stornoway, October 2017.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: MV Isle of Arran
Owner: Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited
Operator: Caledonian MacBrayne
Port of registry: Glasgow, United Kingdom
Builder: Ferguson Ailsa Ltd, Port Glasgow
Yard number: 491[1]
  • 2 December 1983
  • by Miss Joanna Younger, daughter of the then Secretary of State
Maiden voyage: 13 April 1984
Status: in service
General characteristics
Class and type: vehicle and passenger ferry
Tonnage: 3,269[clarification needed]
Length: 84.92 m (278.6 ft)
Beam: 16.24 m (53.3 ft)
Draft: 3 m (9.8 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x 8MB275 diesel engines, each developing 2310bhp
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) (service)
  • 448 passengers
  • 76 cars
Crew: 20
Notes: [2]

MV Isle of Arran is a drive-through ferry owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and operated on the west coast of Scotland by Caledonian MacBrayne. Built in 1983, she served on the Arran service for ten years before being moved to Kennacraig. She returned to her original route in 2012, supplementing MV Caledonian Isles in summer and becoming a relief vessel in winter. In 2013, she started a new pilot route from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, which became a permanent fixture in 2015.


Over the years, MV Isle of Arran has seen complete contrasts in her regular employment - a ship which started out as the main ferry on a busy route, where she was overwhelmed by her own success - redeployed to another route, where she brought ro-ro capabilities and latterly transferred to a role in which she was one of the most well-traveled members of the fleet. She has been a real workhorse, providing an essential service for over 30 years.[3]

Isle of Arran was launched on the Clyde at the end of 1983. After fitting out, she made her way down to Gourock, where she showed the flag and tested her bow ramp on the linkspan. After further berthing trials at Ardrossan and Brodick, she eventually took over the route on 13 April 1984 from MV Glen Sannox, which itself had recently replaced the failed MV Clansman. She became a great asset to the Clyde-based fleet, with a crossing time to Arran of 55 minutes (the scheduled time for many years). Her winter relieving vessels included MV Iona of 1970 and even the elderly MV Glen Sannox.[3]

However, by the turn of the decade, it was clear that Isle of Arran was becoming inadequate for the role for which she was built. In 1993, less than ten years after her launch, she made way for MV Caledonian Isles and left for the Kennacraig to Islay crossings. Replacing Claymore, she brought drive-through capabilities to that route. Despite a much larger vehicle capacity, she could discharge a full load and take on another in the same, if not less, time than Claymore. Throughout the summer she made two or three return trips each day to Islay. On Wednesdays during high summer, her roster took her on past Port Askaig to Colonsay and Oban, returning to Kennacraig after dark. The winter months saw Claymore or Iona on the Islay sailings and Isle of Arran took on a general relief role for the other large vessels at Oban, Ardrossan, Ullapool and Uig. She saw service on the majority of the drive-through routes on the west coast, while continuing to have her own commitment to Islay during the summer. From the end of 1998, MV Clansman took the Arran and Lewis relief sailings and Isle of Arran relieved where needed.[3]

With the introduction of MV Hebrides on the "Uig triangle" in March 2001, MV Hebridean Isles moved south to become the regular Islay ship, and Isle of Arran became the spare vessel. An army charter took her from Ardrossan to Campbeltown in the autumn of 2001.[3]

In 2002, she took up an experimental summer arrangement as a third large ship based in Oban, along with MV Isle of Mull and MV Clansman. Isle of Arran was able to improve several routes, carrying out additional sailings on a new roster incorporating runs to Colonsay, Coll, Tiree, Barra, South Uist and Mull. A new weekly sailing on a Thursday took her to Scarinish on Tiree, through the Gunna Sound and across the Minch to Castlebay for mid-afternoon before retracing her steps to arrive back in Oban late in the evening. This new duty was a big success with islanders and tourists alike. Isle of Arran pioneered this new duty roster but MV Lord of the Isles was to continue it in 2003, once the new MV Coruisk arrived at Mallaig. The duty allocations were redefined with Clansman taking the majority of the Coll and Tiree sailings, and LOTI concentrating mainly on the Outer Isles and Colonsay.[3]

2003 and 2004 saw Isle of Arran back at Islay for the high summer, partnering her replacement, MV Hebridean Isles, on a two-ship roster. There was essentially double capacity on this route, and Islay could still be served on a Wednesday whilst Hebridean Isles was off to Colonsay and Oban. These additional sailings to Islay were marked as such in the timetable, and could be cancelled at short notice as Isle of Arran was still the relief vessel. Prior to the 2004 season, she spent time in the James Watt Dock undergoing major work to replace her car deck. At the end of that season she ventured north to Stornoway, to relieve the freight vessel MV Muirneag. During this spell, idle on Lewis she was joined by Clansman, herself relieving MV Isle of Lewis on the main ferry roster.[3]

2005 saw Isle of Arran doing the back-up duties, with quite a number of calls to Oban, to cover for the Clansman, Lord of the Isles and the Isle of Mull at different times. Berthing trials at the new linkspan at Dunoon, allowed her to relieve there whilst the Streakers were all at Rothesay. The middle of the summer saw Isle of Arran handling all Islay traffic for a few days when Hebridean Isles covered the Tiree and Outer Isles rosters in place of the broken down Clansman. As the season ended, the Isle of Arran was once more on the Islay route, covering for the Hebridean Isles' refit.[3]

In February 2010, Isle of Arran struck the linkspan at Kennacraig, whilst travelling at a speed of over 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph). No passengers or crew were harmed but there was damage to the vessel and the linkspan.[4] In the summer of 2011, MV Finlaggan replaced her on the Islay service and Isle of Arran became a spare vessel.[5] When not in service Isle of Arran is laid up at either Campbeltown or Rosneath.

Isle of Arran saw service on her original route in February 2012, whilst MV Caledonian Isles was away for inspection, after striking the pier at Ardrossan.[6] In July and August 2012, she operated the additional services alongside Caledonian Isles, a service provided by MV Saturn until the previous summer. During September 2012, she provided temporary cover on the Rothesay - Wemyss Bay service, whilst MV Bute underwent engine repairs. This was her first time on the route and a temporary timetable had to be introduced as she could not keep the normal one.[citation needed] After the September holiday weekend, she remained at Rosneath for the winter, returning to Ardrossan in May 2013 to resume the additional summer service to Arran and piloting a new summer route to Campbeltown.[citation needed] In December 2015, it was announced that this route would become a permanent fixture in the timetable.[7]

In February 2014, in her 31st year, Isle of Arran once again relieved on her original route after Caledonian Isles broke down. She later relieved at Stornoway after MV Isle of Lewis broke down.

In 2015, Isle of Arran finished her winter duties at Islay and headed to Ardrossan to let off crew cars before sailing to James Watt Dock for repairs. During April 2015, before she was due to start her usual summer sailings to Arran and Campbeltown, she suffered problems with her engine shaft. Caledonian Isles took all of her traffic and offered extra sailings. Isle of Arran was repaired by the beginning of May and returned to service.[citation needed]

In August 2015, it was announced that Isle of Arran would be replaced in 2018 by MV Glen Sannox, a new ferry built at Ferguson Marine Engineering at Port Glasgow on the Clyde. Glen Sannox is one of two identical sister-ships, with MV Claymore expected to serve the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert route.[8] Isle of Arran may become the second ferry on the Oban-Craignure ferry crossing in summer 2020 alongside Isle of Mull.[citation needed]

She relieved on the Uig Triangle, alongside MV Hebridean Isles, in January and February 2016 whilst MV Hebrides was away covering for other vessels.[9] After covering at Islay, she provided extra Easter sailings to Arran. After she resumed her regular summer timetable, she developed a propeller fault, leaving her out of service for nearly two weeks.[citation needed]

From 3 January to 21 January 2017, Isle of Arran relieved on the Ardrossan-Brodick route alongside MV Hebridean Isles whilst MV Caledonian Isles was away for her annual overhaul.[10]

For two weeks in June 2017, Isle of Arran was out of service for emergency bow thruster repairs. MV Loch Bhrusda operated additional sailings from Claonaig to Lochranza alongside MV Catriona.[11] After returning to Arran, she became the first ferry to dock at the new linkspan in Brodick, carrying out berthing trials on 21 and 26 June.[citation needed]

In Winter 2017/18, Isle of Arran was the main winter relief ferry. In November 2017, Isle of Arran assisted MV Hebrides by taking a few Lochboisdale-Uig sailings while the Lochmaddy linkspan was being repaired. During February and March 2018, she encountered issues with her propeller shafts while covering for MV Hebridean Isles on the Islay run and was out of service for approximately two weeks. In April and May 2018, Isle of Arran delivered a shared timetable to Arran and Islay while MV Clansman was at Garvel Dry Dock at Greenock for repairs to her propeller and prop shaft.[12] Isle of Arran returned to the Ardrossan-Brodick/Campbeltown ferry crossing in May 2018, using the new Brodick terminal with two berths. The new MV Glen Sannox is expected to be delivered in June 2019.[13][14]

In August 2018, Isle of Arran suffered further issues with her propeller shaft, and she was out of service for approximately two weeks while repairs were carried out at Garvel Dry Dock at Greenock. After returning to service, she broke down a week later and was out of service for the rest of the summer 2018 season. Hebridean Isles assisted Caledonian Isles on the route for the last week of the additional Arran and Campbeltown sailings.[15]


Of drive-through design, Isle of Arran has an open plan car deck with space for 76 cars in five lanes. She is fitted with a bow visor and bow and stern ramps. The open stern allows her to carry tankers and other large vehicles at the same time as passengers. There is insufficient height for lorries and coaches down either side of the car deck due to a gallery deck. From the car deck one must go outside to access the passenger accommodation. On Deck 3 there is a sheltered seating area, access to car deck and passenger lounges and a luggage area. There was originally a TV lounge with a children's room, but these were taken away in 2009 to boost crew accommodation.

On Deck 4 is the main passenger lounge. At the aft end of the deck is a crew area and the galley. Forward is the cafeteria. The main entrance has an information desk, a small children's area and a gaming area. At the bow of the ship there is the Coffee Cabin and shop with a lounge. On the port side is another lounge which is the area designated for dogs. On Deck 4 passengers can walk around the ship. The funnels are located mid deck around the cafeteria area, while the deck also includes three lifeboats and one FRC (Fast Rescue Craft). On Deck 5 passengers can access the popular open foredeck, accessible under the bridge wings. Above the cafeteria is an open deck with red plastic seating. This deck also has more areas for crew members.

On deck 6 is the bridge and the outdoor bridge wings, a feature which is now only present on two CalMac vessels, the other being MV Hebridean Isles.


1984 - 1993 Ardrossan - Brodick
1993 - 1998 Kennacraig - Islay (summer) and winter relief
1998 - 2001 Kennacraig - Islay
2002 Oban 3rd vessel
2003 - 2007 general relief and Islay 2nd summer vessel
2007 - 2011 Kennacraig - Islay
winter 2011 - summer 2013 spare (winter) and Arran 2nd summer vessel
since summer 2013 spare (winter), Ardrossan - Campbeltown (summer) and Arran 2nd summer vessel


  1. ^ "8219554". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  2. ^ "MV Isle of Arran". Ships of CalMac. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "History of MV Isle of Arran". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  4. ^ "Isle of Arran Ferry Collides with Kennacraig Pier". Islay Blog. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Islay Ferry". Isle of Islay. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Replacement Arran Ferry on Route". The Arran Banner. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Campbeltown summer ferry permanent from next year". BBC. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Ferguson Yard Wins New Ferry Order". Clyde 1. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Dedicated ferries for Uig triangle during winter". Island News and Advertiser. 7 October 2015. Archived from the original on 12 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  10. ^ "The case for Ardrossan was strengthened again this week after the MV Isle of Arran had to be towed into berth at Troon during adverse weather". Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  11. ^ "All MV Isle of Arran sailings cancelled for a week to carry out ferry repairs". Daily Record. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  12. ^ Martin Laing (20 April 2018). "Repair complications require CalMac fleet reshuffle". The Arran Banner. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Ferry MV Glen Sannox ready for launch at Port Glasgow yard". Greenock Telegraph. 19 November 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  14. ^ "New Arran Ferry set to launch next June - government confirms". Ardrossan Herald. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  15. ^ Martin Williams (11 September 2018). "CalMac ferry breakdown causes major disruption to Arran services". The Herald. Retrieved 30 September 2018.

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