MV Isle of Mull
|Name:||MV Isle of Mull|
|Owner:||Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited|
|Port of registry:||Glasgow|
|Route:||Oban - Craignure|
|Builder:||Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow|
|Launched:||8 December 1987|
|Christened:||by Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy|
|Maiden voyage:||11 April 1988|
|Length:||90.3 m (84.9 m before 1988)|
|Propulsion:||Mirlees Blackstone: 8MB275T Diesel|
|Speed:||15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) (service)|
|Capacity:||962 passenger, 70 cars|
MV Isle of Mull was designed for the route between Oban and Craignure on the Isle of Mull. After being launched on the Clyde in 1987, she entered service on 11 April 1988, in place of the older and slower MV Caledonia.
However the new vessel was seriously overweight – by more than 100 tons - due to both design and Steel Supply, British Steel had installed a new Computerised Gauge Control at its Dalzell Plate production unit, and during the initial production of steel plate after its introduction it tended to produce plates still within the allowed manufacturing specification, but at or near the upper gauge allowed in the tolerance - resulting in the steel tending to be heavier than designed. In late autumn 1988 she was taken out of service for two weeks and sent to Tees Dockyard Ltd in Middlesbrough to be lengthened by 5.4 m (20 ft). The extent of this implant can most easily be observed when climbing the stairs from the car deck to the passenger accommodation. These stairs used to be a single flight, but now have a level section halfway up. The new length of hull made the vessel better both in terms of vehicle capacity (taking it to around 80) but also in that she handled better at sea with her overall speed increased slightly.
In the late 1990s she underwent internal refurbishment. Her cafeteria was redecorated and the serving area modified – setting the standard for the rest of the fleet. The shop was moved to a more prominent position in the entrance concourse and she received new seating covers etc. The Isle of Mull underwent another major refurbishment in 2005. The cafeteria was redesigned with a new service area layout, including self-service tea and coffee machines and was renamed the Mariners Cafeteria. A coffee bar was installed in the viewing lounge at the after end of the ship opposite the doors leading out to the open deck which overlooks the rope handling area of the ship and is named the Coffee Cabin. The bar has also been renamed The Still.
The totally enclosed car deck has room for up to 70 cars. Headroom on the bow and stern ramps is 4.7 metres. She is equipped with a bow visor, bow ramp and stern ramp. The two-part folding bow ramp is shaped like an inverted ‘L’. When raised, the main section plugs the access to the car deck. The forward section folds out flat upon contact with the linkspan.
Above the car deck are two levels of accommodation, providing shelter and facilities for up to 1000 passengers. The first deck houses the cafeteria at the bow, with the main entrance concourse and shop immediately aft. Behind this are lounges, toilets and the information desk, with the bar at the stern. The next deck has an observation lounge at the stern and crew accommodation further forward. External deck space stretches from the lounge to just short of the bridge on both sides. An observation lounge on the top deck has seating aft of the funnel. The large amount of open deck space is one factor that makes the Isle of Mull popular with tourists.
MV Isle of Mull has operated the crossing between Oban and Craignure on the Isle of Mull since 1988. She completes the sailing in 45 minutes on a good day, although the short turnaround and poor manoeuvrability in even light winds lead to frequent delays and increasing cancellations. There is some flexibility with additional sailings provided by MV Coruisk. Isle of Mull also provides the winter link between the mainland and the island of Colonsay and has provided winter relief on a various routes, such as between Ullapool and Stornoway from 1989 to 1998, covering for overhauls of MV Suilven & MV Isle of Lewis and between Ardrossan and Brodick in 2007. In October 1989, her larger passenger capacity was required at Stornoway for those travelling to the Mod. This meant she basically swapped places with the Suilven, which took over the Oban-Craignure service for 10 days.
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