hebridean isles

MV Hebridean Isles

MV Hebridean Isles is a ferry operated by Caledonian MacBrayne on the west coast of Scotland. After 15 years on the Uig triangle, she now serves Islay.


MV Hebridean Isles was constructed at Cochrane’s yard in Selby and launched sideways into the Ouse in 1985. Broadly similar to the MV Isle of Arran she was designed to be suitable for use anywhere within the network, although intended for the Uig triangle. Following her delivery voyage, she conducted trials at various ports around the network and did not take up duties at Uig, Skye until spring 1986. MV Columba, the winter relief ship continued there while construction works were carried out at the various piers. New linkspans were required at all three terminals. The new ferry found temporary employment as a winter relief vessel at Ullapool and Oban, where she stood in for the MV Caledonia and MV Glen Sannox. Even when she took over at Uig, she still had to use her hoist at the Skye terminal for eight months while the new berth at the end of the long pier was finished.

She brought vastly improved standards of passenger comfort and became popular, with slightly reduced sailing times and, once she was able to use her bow and stern ramps, greatly reduced turn-round times.


MV Hebridean Isles' design incorporates a bow visor, bow and stern ramps, and a vehicle hoist with side ramps. This made her suitable for all the routes served by the large fleet units. Her spacious car deck can accommodate almost 70 cars, with passenger accommodation on two decks forward of the hoist. One deck comprises the cafeteria furthest aft, then the entrance concourse, shop and information point, with the reclining lounge and bar towards the bow. Above the cafeteria is the observation lounge with crew accommodation forward of this. The bridge is on the next level at the bow. Externally there is ample deck space including, like the Isle of Arran, a deck area forward of the bridge, giving passengers a view ahead.


MV Hebridean Isles spent her first 15 years almost exclusively on her intended crossing of the Little Minch. She sailed from Uig on Skye to Tarbert and Lochmaddy, using her stern ramp at Uig and her bow visor and ramp at both Tarbert and Lochmaddy. There were no Sunday sailings to Harris. After 15 years demand became too much and she was replaced by the new MV Hebrides in 2001.

MV Hebridean Isles headed south as the dedicated Islay ferry, taking over from the MV Isle of Arran. Operating out of Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula, she sailed to Port Ellen and Port Askaig. On summer Wednesdays she continued to Colonsay and Oban, returning to Kennacraig in the evening. Since 2003 she has been joined in the summer by the Isle of Arran, to provide a series of additional sailings throughout the week and to maintain the service on Wednesdays during the Oban extension.

She was chartered to Northlink Ferries for six months from October 2002 and inaugurated their Stromness to Scrabster service. She continues to relieve there each winter.


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