MV Loch Portain
Approaching Leverburgh, Harris on 9 May 2016.
|Name:||MV Loch Portain|
|Owner:||Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited|
|Port of registry:||Glasgow|
|Route:||Sound of Harris|
|Builder:||Feniks, Gdańsk and McTay Marine, Bromborough|
|Yard number:||McTay 129|
|In service:||5 June 2003|
|Class and type:||ro-ro vehicle ferry|
|Length:||49 m (161 ft)|
|Beam:||14.4 m (47.2 ft)|
|Propulsion:||water-jet propulsion system|
|Capacity:||146 passengers and 34 cars|
Soon after the Sound of Harris service started in 1996 using the new vessel MV Loch Bhrusda, it became apparent that a new vessel was required. This was built, as another large variant on the successful Loch Class, by McTay Marine on the Mersey. The new ferry was named MV Loch Portain on 23 April 2003 and undertook sea trials, before arriving in North Uist on 1 June.
During January and February 2016, Loch Portain was fitted with a passenger lift and 2 MES evacuation systems, 1 port and 1 starboard, whilst dry docking in Birkenhead.
MV Loch Portain's car deck provides space for up to 34 cars. Passenger accommodation, above the car deck, contains several internal seating areas, forward and aft external seating areas, toilets, information boards and a basic vending machine. Her bridge, above the passenger lounge, provides a grandstand view - essential on the tortuous Sound of Harris route.
MV Loch Portain was built for the Leverburgh (Harris) to Berneray (North Uist) route and has operated there since 2003. MV Loch Bhrusda had started the service in 1996, but could only carry 18 cars and soon proved inadequate. Initially, the service connected Leverburgh with a slipway at Otternish on North Uist, until the Berneray Causeway opened in April 1999, when the ferry's southern terminus moved to a purpose-built slipway at the northern end of the causeway.
The shallow Sound of Harris is full of islands, sandbacks and rocks, and the route followed by the ferry covers nine nautical miles in an hour. From Leverburgh the ferry skirts the islets near the Harris coast before heading south to North Uist. Close to the island of Grodhaigh it takes a sharp right turn and heads nearly due west to the southern tip of Berneray.
The MV Loch Portain carries twice as many cars as the Loch Bhrusda, and more passengers. The new ferry is more stable in heavier seas (being designed to sail in winds up to Force 7/8) and also significantly quieter than her predecessor. The route has proved far more popular than predicted and reservations are advised for vehicles. In Summer 2006, the service started to operate seven days per week, making it the first route to operate a Sunday service to the northern half of the Western Isles.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to MV Loch Portain.|
In October 2015, MV Loch Portain "made contact" with the sea bed in the Sound of Harris, resulting in a short spell in dry dock undergoing repairs
- MV Loch Portain on www.calmac.co.uk