Ships of the Fleet
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.
During her first week at Largs in 1986
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.
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.
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
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.
Making passage in Loch Sligachan
Arriving at Sconser
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
Text thanks to SoC