MV Loch Seaforth (1947)

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MV Loch Seaforth.jpg
Loch Seaforth at Mallaig in 1971.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: MV Loch Seaforth
Namesake: Loch Seaforth, sea loch between Lewis and Harris
Operator: David MacBrayne Ltd
Port of registry: Glasgow, United Kingdom
Route: Stornoway mail boat
Builder: William Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton
Yard number: 1404
Launched: 19 May, 1947[1]
In service: 6 December 1947
Out of service: 1973
Identification: Official Number
General characteristics
Tonnage: 1,126 GT[2]
Length: 69.90 m (229 ft 4 in)[2]
Beam: 11 m (36 ft 1 in)
Draught: 3.40 m (11 ft 2 in)
Installed power: 2 x 6-cylinder Sulzer Bros Ltd Winterthur two-stroke diesel engines, 1,800 bhp at 235 rpm[2]
Propulsion: twin 3-blade propellers
Speed: 15 knots
Capacity: passengers[2]

MV Loch Seaforth was the Stornoway mailboat operated by David MacBrayne Ltd, from 1947 until 1972. Running aground and sinking in 1973, she blocked the Tiree pier, until removed for scrapping.


Built in 1947, Loch Seaforth was the delayed second of two mailboats ordered in 1938; the first, MV Lochiel had entered service in 1939.[1] Larger and faster than her predecessors, she rapidly became a success at Stornoway.

Loch Seaforth remained the biggest MacBrayne ship until the 1964 car ferries.[1] She is the only MacBrayne vessel to have been written off whilst on passenger service.[1]

She developed a reputation with the press for mishap, with groundings in Kyle, Mallaig and off Longay. The second of those, in 1966, left her high and dry for two days.[1] On 22 March 1973, she ran aground on Cleit Rock in the Sound of Gunna. All passengers were safely taken off and she was towed to Gott Bay, Tiree. A bulkhead gave way when she was pumped out and she sank completely, blocking Tiree's only pier until 11 May, when the former Stornoway mail boat was lifted onto the beach. She was re-floated and towed to Troon for scrapping.[3]

On 8 April 2013, Caledonian Maritime Assets announced that the new £42 million replacement ferry for the Stornoway to Ullapool crossing, ordered in June 2012, had been named Loch Seaforth, the name of which won a competition run by CMAL, and thus reviving the name of the MacBrayne's mail steamer. She was constructed at Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft in Germany, with building starting in September 2013. Loch Seaforth (II) was launched on 21 March 2014, before being delivered to Scotland in November that year. She replaced the former vessel on the route, the Isle of Lewis of 1995, in February 2015.


Loch Seaforth had a short single funnel. All her cargo space was forward and the foremast incorporated two derricks. She had space for sixteen cars.[1] The "MacBrayne Highlander", a "quasi-figurehead" on her bows, appeared in company publicity for many years. In 1949 Loch Seaforth became the first member of the MacBrayne fleet to be fitted with radar.[1]


Built for service from Stornoway, Loch Seaforth started her career there on 6 December 1947, replacing SS Lochness. She spent most of her career on the service to Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh. Until 1956, she made a regular call at Applecross and from 1959 to 1963, also provided an occasional car ferry service to Armadale, Skye.[1]

Derrick-loading was slow and traffic was lost to the 1964 hoist-loading MV Hebrides at Uig, Skye.[1] In January 1972, Loch Seaforth was withdrawn from the Stornoway route and transferred to Oban, serving Coll, Tiree, Castlebay and Lochboisdale in place of the younger MV Claymore. Soon after this, Ullapool became the mainland port for Stornoway, initially served by MV Iona and then the converted MV Clansman.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "History - Loch Saforth". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Fleet - Loch Seaforth". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Fleet Features - The Sinking of Loch Seaforth". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 31 July 2010.