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Aran And Arran: Twin Funnelled Ferries of the Past, Present & Future

7th May 2017
The oldest large car ferry of the CalMac fleet, Isle of Arran on a summer crossing mid-way from Brodick, Arran on the Firth of Clyde bound for Ardrossan. The scene was taken from on board Caledonian Isles that also operates the route year-round. The oldest large car ferry of the CalMac fleet, Isle of Arran on a summer crossing mid-way from Brodick, Arran on the Firth of Clyde bound for Ardrossan. The scene was taken from on board Caledonian Isles that also operates the route year-round. Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#Aran&Arran – A passenger freightship that served the Aran Islands notably from Galway and a present day car ferry running to Arran, Scotland have similarities, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The custom-built Oileáin Árann (see photo) completed in 1991 at James Miller of St. Monans, on the Firth of Fife, served the Galway-Aran Islands route. The 416 gross tonnage vessel became the last ship to offer a 'direct passenger route' to and from the mid-west city, previously run by CIE’s Naomh Éanna.

Operator, O’Brien Shipping as previously reported sold the almost 40m long Oileáin Árann in 2006 to Icelandic owners Samskip. They converted the small ship to emerge as the ro-ro ferry Sæfari that trades in coastal waters to islands in northern Iceland.

As for the current car ferry operating to Arran, on the Firth of Clyde, the also custom-built Isle of Arran was too built in Scotland but on Clydeside at Ferguson Ailsa Ltd, Port Glasgow. The 3,296 gross tonnage relief ferry operates Ardrossan-Brodick (Arran: see Scotland in miniature) during the summer months. In addition Caledonian Isles operates year round for Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac).

Towards the end of last month, the almost 85m Isle of Arran resumed seasonal Ardrossan-Campbeltown sailings on the Mull of Kintyre. This is the second year since the most southernmost CalMac route was given permanent status following a three year pilot trial. This was to develop traffic and boost tourism to the isolated peninsula a mere 11 nautical miles from Northern Ireland.

Likewise of the former Oileáin Árann, the CalMac pair feature twin funnels and have their names in Scots Gealic. Isle of Aran is translated to Eilean Arainn and as for Caledonian Isles this is Eileanan Chaledonia. The English names are displayed on the hull, while the bi-lingual versions are to seen on the superstructure.

Both these car ferries are to be replaced when the first of a pair of 102m dual-fuel (diesel and LPG) ferries are planned for year-round service for Arran and the Uig Triangle. Construction of the €97m newbuilds is taking place in Port Glasgow at the Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited’s (FMEL) shipyard. The design of these sleek looking newbuilds will again feature twin funnels.

The first newbuild is expected to enter service in early 2018, with the sister following a few months later. Each ferry will carry 127 cars or 16 HGVs or a combination of both and up to 1,000 passengers. 

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