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Career Ends for Last of Scottish ‘Island’ Class Ferry While Sisters Remain In Irish Service

22nd March 2018
Farewell Raasay: Gordon Law and Stuart Craig of the Clyde River Steamer Club joined CalMac's small vessel technical superintendent, Jonathan Davies (centre) for a last look around the former Inner Hebrides serving carferry. A sister, Canna Afloat adds was replaced by newbuild Spirit of Rathlin made a delivery voyage to its island namesake off Antrim, Northern Ireland for the first time a year ago today. The new carferry after trials entered service in June and this led to Rathlin Island Ferry Co return the chartered Canna to Scottish owners CMAL. Farewell Raasay: Gordon Law and Stuart Craig of the Clyde River Steamer Club joined CalMac's small vessel technical superintendent, Jonathan Davies (centre) for a last look around the former Inner Hebrides serving carferry. A sister, Canna Afloat adds was replaced by newbuild Spirit of Rathlin made a delivery voyage to its island namesake off Antrim, Northern Ireland for the first time a year ago today. The new carferry after trials entered service in June and this led to Rathlin Island Ferry Co return the chartered Canna to Scottish owners CMAL. Photo: CMAL

#FerryNews – One of the longest serving car ferries of Scottish operator, CalMac, is retiring from west coast service, though a number of sisters remain in Irish waters, writes Jehan Ashmore. 

The MV Raasay built to a landing craft design, whereby vehicle access was only available at the bow (incl. foot passengers) became the last of eight ‘Island’ class delivered during the 1970’s. The small ferry at 69grt served its namesake island located in the Inner Hebrides.

Several of the Island class sisters remain in service following disposal to new owners operating along the Irish western seaboard. These sisters, all beyond their 40th year, maintain island services off counties Donegal and Galway. Afloat will have more on these sisters, though the MV Canna which had served Rathlin Island off Antrim was disposed last year. 

The 75 passenger / 6 vehicle MV Raasay served the Sconser-Raasay route for 21 years from the vessel's launch in 1976 until increased traffic from the island made her unsuitable. From hereon the ferry became one of the CalMac relief vessels until being pressed back into regular service again in 2003 as the winter ferry serving Kilchoan-Tobermory.

The 'Island' class vessels transformed services for CalMac, as they opened up a new route to Arran. In addition to opening two additional routes to Mull and provided a safe and reliable link from Skye to Raasay. Being virtually interchangeable they greatly increased the flexibility of the fleet.

CalMac which is state-owned under the Scottish Government, operates a fleet of 33 vessels serving 27 island and remote mainland communities across the west coast. They are the UK's largest ferry company and last year they carried more than 5.3 million passengers and nearly 1.3 million vehicles.

MV Raasay was handed back to owners Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) who are expected to announce a buyer for the vessel shortly.

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