Main The Fleet Ships of the Fleet Eigg History
Eigg was launched some time after the previous Island Class ship; Coll. The fifth of this type of ferry entered service in 1975 having run trials on the Clyde and been accepted into the fleet.

Her first duty was to assume control of the Portree – Raasay service, previously carried out by the Loch Arkaig when not on Small Isles duties. The crossing was a fairly long one for a slow ship such as the Eigg and it was clear that Portree would not remain the Skye terminal. Although Eigg brought vehicle-carrying capability to the route, at first there was no slipway on Raasay and she had to berth at the main pier. Once the slipway was constructed adjacent to the pier, vehicles could be brought over six at a time, although on occasion it was known for the Eigg and indeed the other five of the larger batch of Island Class ships to squeeze eight cars onto their little car decks.

Eigg served the people of Raasay for just under a year until January 1976 when she was replaced by the seventh sister; Canna. Upon displacement from Raasay the Eigg was transferred to Oban where the Morvern and then the Bruernish had been keeping a new route open for her. January 1976 saw the beginnings of a long association between the Eigg and the island of Lismore in Loch Linnhe. The 50 minute sailing saw the Eigg leaving from the slipway at Oban, adjacent to the linkspan, passing round the northern end of Kerrera and north to Achnacroish on the small island.
Picture: Gavin Stewart
Out on trials on the Clyde

Picture: SoC Crew
Eigg unloading at Lismore slipway
well into her career
For over 20 years the Eigg would remain on the Lismore crossing, providing anywhere between 2 and 4 or 5 return sailings depending on the time of year and day of the week. As Lismore was not a tourist island like Mull or Iona, the capacity of 6 cars and up to 164 passengers was rarely achieved. The Eigg made her association to the island known to all when the top of her wheelhouse was adorned with a sign denoting that she was indeed the ‘Lismore Ferry’. Apart from annual overhauls when she would be relieved by one of the spare sisters such as Rhum or Coll, the Eigg remained the dedicated ferry for Lismore and seldom deviated form the route.

Picture: SoC Crew
Battling through a particularly foul storm

Things did not change until the mid 1990s when a switch was made. The Eigg was moved in 1996 from Oban to Tobermory where she became the dedicated Kilchoan ferry on the 35 minute crossing from Mull. The previous vessel Coll took her place initially at Oban. During the high season she was assisted by her older sister Bruernish and a two-ship service was provided at peak periods due to the increasing popularity on the scenic but isolated route.
Eigg spent the next three summers employed on the Tobermory – Kilchoan crossing but she also saw service to and from Mallaig and the Small Isles. She was equipped with the necessary equipment to grant her a IIA passenger certificate and so when required, Eigg would leave Tobermory for the journey round Ardnamurchan and up to Mallaig. Her main duties at Mallaig would be livestock runs to and from the Small Isles. Her place at Tobermory would be taken by Bruernish or Coll. Picture: Iain McPherson
Passing through the Sound of Kerrera, bound for Port Askaig
1998 was the Eigg ’s last season at her Tobermory base. She was once again transferred to Oban for the 1999 season, and had survived the latest round of Island Class redundancies (the unlucky ones being Coll and Rhum). Her ‘new’ role was actually a return to the old days and she once again became the dedicated Lismore vessel. Her wheelhouse had been raised one level so as to enable her master to see over the wagons that would previously have obstructed his view. With this 'genetic modification' in height, Eigg became by far the most easily identifiably Island Class ship. Her colour scheme was also altered in the same overhaul, and her hull was now black, the paint having been brought up to the height of her bulwarks. This was the new livery for these little ferries and it brought them into line with the rest of the fleet (with the exception being Isle of Cumbrae) in that the company name was now white on black.

Picture: SoC Crew
Calling at Craignure on a fuel run

Picture: SoC Crew
Approaching Lismore
Eigg has remained the main ferry for Lismore since 1999, although she does still maintain her Class IIA certificate and so can be seen from time to time providing extra sailings to Craignure as required. She is relieved usually in the early part of the year by Raasay when she goes away for slipping, usually at Corpach.

Until recently it had been assumed that Eigg would remain the main Lismore ferry for the foreseeable future, however a press announcement from CalMac revealed that Lismore was due to receive a larger ferry in the shape of one of the Loch Class ferries – assumed to be Loch Riddon. This would be made possible by the introduction of the Loch Shira on the Largs - Cumbrae Slip run. The press release then hinted at a vessel cascade however instead of Lismore getting the bigger vessel, it was in fact Eriskay that received the Loch Alainn, thus rendering the Loch Bhrusda spare. Eigg was given a new boost because the Loch Bhrusda went to the Clyde to be based at Fairlie instead of displacing her from Lismore.

Text thanks to SoC Crew (C)

Picture: SoC Crew
Being chased by Clansman while returning from Craignure

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