12th September 2006
FRC and inflatable liferafts
Current / Last Route
May 16, 2007
CMAL for service with CalMac Ferries Ltd
Mrs Trish Timms, wife of CalMac Ferries' Chairman Peter Timms
Six previous vessels to carry the name
Remontowa Group in Gdansk, Poland
1x MAK 8M20; 1x MAK 6M20 engines driving Schottel azimuth propulsion units fore and aft
Hoist & Lifts:
Two passenger lifts from the car deck to the passenger lounge
Disabled lift from car deck to passenger deck
2007 - Present: Wemyss Bay - Rothesay
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.
Argyle 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 possessed a ramp on the starboard side although it was intended that this would not be usedfor long. 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 before she was finally able to enter service full time, ending the days of the Streakers serving Bute and spelling the end for the Juno, whose passenger certificate was allowed to expire.
For the first six months or so Argyle was unable to use her stern ramp for loading and continued to use the side-loading berth at Rothesay until the new linkspan came into use at the end of the year. Timetable tweaks in the years that followed meant a less intensive schedule and instead of a sailing every 45 minutes through the day, the timetable on the Bute service was relaxed to roughly hourly intervals between sailings for the majority of the day. Disruption came whenever construction work was due and such events would often see diversions to Gourock. This was the case for from October 2015 to March 2016 while Wemyss Bay pier was undergoing major linkspan maintenance and having new fendering installed - both Argyle and her sister saw all sailings running to Gourock, a crossing of approximately an hour in duration. Similarly when work was taking place at Rothesay, the pier lost its second overnight berth for several months and one ferry would divert the last sailing of the day to Gourock.
Overhaul time for Argyle comes around in October when she heads upriver to Garvel drydock or downriver to Troon and her place at Rothesay is taken by the smaller Coruisk. So far in Argyle's career with CalMac, she has never served on any route other than Wemyss Bay to Rothesay and thanks to her single hulled design, nor could she ever do so.