Main The Fleet Ships of the Fleet Loch Striven History

LOCH STRIVEN’s history goes back to the early 1980s when the order for four new drive-through ferries was placed with Dunston’s of Hessle on the Humber. For years previously a number of routes had seen traffic levels build up steadily and were now at the point where the small ferries that were used could no longer cope with demand. Prime examples of this were the Largs – Cumbrae Slip, Lochranza – Claonaig, Colintraive – Rhubodach and Fishnish – Lochaline routes.

The new ferries were modified versions of the ISLE OF CUMBRAE, at that time operating the Cumbrae route on her own. Their overall size was roughly the same as the 1977-built vessel, however their car decks were only wide enough to take two lanes of vehicles as opposed to three. The space that would have been allocated for the third vehicle lane, on the port side of the ships was actually given over to a second passenger lounge in addition to that on the starboard side. This modification reduced car capacity to 12 but increased passenger capacity to around 200.

Picture: SoC Crew
During her first week at Largs in 1986

As with the ISLE OF CUMBRAE, the new ferries received Voith Schneider propulsion units fore and aft which meant they could manoeuvre around the tightest turns and berth with ease at their given slipways. The newbuilds were also more aesthetically pleasing when they emerged in 1986 and 1987. They had no funnels as such so their wheelhouses were painted red and given a black top. The lion emblem was added to either side of the wheelhouse and the mainmast rose at an angle above it

Picture: SoC Crew
Loading at Sconser

The first of the four new ferries was named LOCH STRIVEN after the small loch that lies to the north of Bute. Her delivery voyage saw her leaving the Humber and proceeding up the east coast of England and round to Inverness. From there she passed through the Caledonian Canal – being just about the widest boat that could squeeze through – and down into Loch Linnhe and around to the Clyde.

Upon her arrival on the Clyde the LOCH STRIVEN conducted berthing trials at various ports before entering service on 4th July 1986 on the Largs – Cumbrae Slip crossing, partnering the ISLE OF CUMBRAE. The new vessel meant that a greatly enhanced service to Cumbrae could be offered, with a departure from either terminal every 15 minutes.

After one month in service her partner was transferred away to the Western Isles for further service and the second of the new ferries, having taken the same delivery route and spent four weeks on the Fishnish – Lochaline crossing, arrived on the Clyde and joined the Loch Striven in keeping the Cumbrae Slip route open.

Occasional relief or back up duties saw her covering on the Colintraive – Rhubodach crossing in lieu of or to assist the LOCH RIDDON and in the mid 1990s she was used on the new winter service between Tarbert and Portavadie on Loch Fyne, in addition to carrying out tanker runs from Tarbert to Lochranza on Arran.


Picture: SoC Crew
Making passage in Loch Sligachan
Picture: SoC Crew
Arriving at Sconser

Picture: SoC Crew
Departing Raasay for Skye

The partnership of LOCH STRIVEN and LOCH LINNHE remained on the Cumbrae run for over ten years until the pair were split up in 1997. A cascade of vessels had taken place due to a new arrival in the Western Isles and the LOCH STRIVEN was replaced by the third of her type, LOCH RIDDON. She herself moved north and took control of the short crossing from Sconser on Skye to Raasay, replacing the Island Class ferry RAASAY. This move brought about an increase in capacity to this route as well as eliminating the need for drivers to master the art of reversing on or off the ferry.

Apart from annual overhauls when she is relieved by her former Largs consort LOCH LINNHE, the LOCH STRIVEN has maintained a quiet and simple life plying between Skye and Raasay and looks like she will probably remain up there for the foreseeable future anyway.

Text thanks to SoC Crew (C)

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