Main The Fleet Ships of the Fleet Argyle History

The history of Argyle goes right back to the initial planning stages for the new generation of Rothesay ferries. From the outset it was made clear that two sisters were what CalMac wanted - as had been the case three decades previously when the Jupiter and the Juno were ordered.
To an extent, the process of designing and building the new Rothesay ferries, which commenced in 2003 following the entry into service of the unique Coruisk, was a fairly similar affair to that which had been seen prior to the Streakers introduction. Rather than having the sisters built at simultaneously, the company opted to have them built one after the other. In the 1970's it was Jupiter that emerged first, followed a year later by Juno in 1974. This time round it was the Bute which arrived first in the last days of June 2005, at which time it was predictably announced that the second new ship was to be ordered.

While Bute settled into her new routine of plying back and forth between Wemyss Bay and Rothesay, a watchful eye was kept on the new ship to identify areas for improvement, so that her younger sister could be modified as required during the construction process. It was originally planned that the second ship would be brought into service in the summer of 2006, but it was to be September before she was even launched!

Following a relatively new policy adopted by CalMac, the name of the new ship was revealed in a press release some months before the launch and on 3rd April 2006 a statement on the company's website announced the revival of the name Argyle. The new Argyle was to be the seventh ship to carry the name - and by coincidence she would be operating alongside the seventh vessel to carry the name Bute. The name had long been associated with the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay route and it seemed wholly appropriate that the name be brought back into use.
Picture: SoC Crew
Making her way up the Clyde for the first time

Picture: SoC Crew
Passing Dunoon on her delivery voyage
Picture: SoC Crew
Passing Jupiter off Gourock
Picture: SoC Crew
On her first public sailing from Wemyss Bay

took shape very slowly at the Remontowa yard in Gdansk, Poland and as her sister had done on 9th February 2005, she slid sideways into the water for the first time on 12th September 2006. While she was finished off at the yard there were also developments at what would become 'home-base'. A long-awaited end-loading linkspan had finally been approved for Rothesay, and preparations for its construction were underway through the spring of 2007. Quite predictably though, due to unforeseen problems beneath the water at the pier, this was still far from complete by the time Argyle entered service.

At a casual glance there is very little to differentiate Argyle from Bute although there are subtle differences between the twins that give away their identities (other than the length of her name of course!). As built, Argyle possesses a ramp on the starboard side although it is hoped that this will not be used very often. Once her fitting out was completed and trials had been performed, the new ship was brought over to the UK on a delivery voyage that took her round the northern end of Denmark and then through the English Channel. She called at Portland for refuelling and HM Customs purposes and then  entered the final stages of the delivery route. After passing through the Irish Sea she entered her home waters early on the morning of 29th April and made for Gourock.

Argyle underwent berthing trials to assess her suitability at the various Upper Clyde piers which she was to use, although these were just a formality as she was identical to her sister. Her introduction and VIP was originally scheduled for 27th April , however at this point she was still hundreds of miles away. She was in fact named at a ceremony in Rothesay Bay on Friday 4th May 2007 prior to a cruise down the east side of Bute and across to Cumbrae, returning via Largs and up to the mouth of Loch Striven. The new ship then entered service that same evening with the 1815 service from Wemyss Bay, passing her running mate off Toward Point. There then followed a few days lying idle at Gourock with a computer glitch, giving Saturn one last spell of service, before taking up her new role as the second Rothesay ferry and replacing the 30 year old streaker.
Picture: SoC Crew
With Bute in Rothesay Bay
Picture: SoC Crew
Passing Toward Point

Once the new Rothesay linkspan was finally completed and opened in mid-December, Argyle and her sister came into their own and enabled true drive-through service, although it s highly likely that both sisters will retain their side ramps just in case...

Text SoC Crew (C)

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