Main Fleet News
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PLEASE NOTE: the Fleet News pages are no longer updated on a regular basis. For news updates as movements happen, go to the SoC Forum where news is reported very frequently - you can even report it yourself!
27/07/05 Following successful repairs to her forward Voith unit, Juno returned to service on the Gourock - Dunoon crossing at 1120. This evening Ali Cat was able to return to her usual duties.

The Wemyss Bay - Rothesay service has been operated on a one-ship basis today using Bute which indicates a problem on the streaker. Jupiter was berthed at the wires receiving attention. Tomorrow's 0630 sailing from Rothesay has been cancelled due to further mechanical problems. See the external link above for more details.

Juno is due at Troon dry-dock tomorrow to receive repairs on one of her Voith units. It is believed that she has lost a blade from one of her units, hence the underwater inspection by divers a few days ago.

Elsewhere, Loch Buie has had her Voith unit repairs completed and left Troon for trials before proceeding up to Largs to collect crew cars and was reported to be making for Campbletown for an overnight berth. It is assumed she will return to Fionnphort tomorrow to return to service.

22/07/05 Juno was inspected by divers at Gourock in the last couple of days and as a result is to be taken out of service at 0920 on Monday morning (25/07) for 'essential repairs' which are expected to last until Wednesday. While Juno is out of service, Ali Cat will be seeing service on the main Gourock - Dunoon roster, maintaining a passenger only service, although her own normal peak sailings will be suspended until Juno returns to service and she can resume her own timetable.
20/07/05 Loch Buie will Dry Dock at Troon today for repairs to her Voith Unit. It is also noted that the fleet is at 100% capacity with no Spare units available.
  Update: Loch Buie passing Saltcoats @ 15:15 en route to Troon.
19/07/05 Loch Buie is heading south down the west side of Kintyre heading for Campbeltown tonight. She will then make for the Clyde for repairs to her voith unit. It would appear now that Loch Linnhe is on the Iona station and both Raasay and Bruernish at at Tobermory manning the Kilchoan crossing. It is interesting to note that all Island class vessels are now currently in active 'service'.
NorthLink: The Scottish Executive is expected to announce contract details of the revised Northern Isles contract later today.

NorthLink took over the contract in October 2002 from P&O Scottish Ferries, however in April 2004 NorthLink's financial difficulties forced Scottish Executive to put the service out to a re-tender process.

It has been reported that £63 million of public money has been spent to keep service afloat since NorthLink's initiation in 2002. The shortlist of the companies invited to tender for the six-year contract is thought to be among the details released today, which is thought to include a sole bid from Caledonian MacBrayne. Therefore, watch this space....

Breaking News...
  Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has welcomed confirmation that it is one of the ferry companies confirmed by the Scottish Executive as short listed to tender for the Northern Isles lifeline services contract.

The current operator of the Northern Isles service, NorthLink Ferries, which took up the service in 2002, is jointly owned by Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

NorthLink and CalMac in May 2004 initially submitted separate expressions of interest as part of the re-tendering process. However, since then, and following a review of its future investment criteria, RBS has decided not to continue its involvement as a shareholder in NorthLink beyond the duration of the current contract. However, RBS will remain as the owner of the ships.

CalMac will now lead a bid for the operation of the service by means of a wholly owned company. CalMac will therefore proceed as the sole shareholder of the new operating company, with the successor to the current NorthLink business continuing under its own management and infrastructure.

CalMac's Managing Director Lawrie Sinclair said: "CalMac is wholly committed to the NorthLink business and the communities served in the Northern isles. I now look forward to putting in place a strong team which will begin the process of submitting what I am confident will be the successful bid."

Today's announcements will have no effect on current operations in the Northern Isles or employment and NorthLink Ferries will continue to operate the lifeline services while the tender process unfolds.

CalMac's services on the Clyde and in the Outer Hebrides will also not be affected in any way by today's announcement.

Lawrie Sinclair said: "The outcome of the Minister's meeting in Brussels yesterday has offered further clarification on the State Aids tendering process for the Clyde and Hebridean routes. CalMac welcomes the clarity and the outcome adds further impetus to our preparations for tendering which have been under way for five years and more. Our staff should be assured that we are now geared up to mounting the strongest possible bid for the services and I am confident we will be best placed to win the competition."
17/07/05 NorthLink: The Hamnavoe carried out an additional early morning sailing from Scrabster to Stromness today to accommodate the large volume of freight generated by the visiting circus. The circus is in Stromness for the local gala week and it is expected to leave Orkney for Shetland via NorthLink at the end of the week. The large volume of freight is then expected to sail directly back to Aberdeen via NorthLink once again.
16/07/05 It appears that ex CalMac ferry Pioneer (now renamed Brenda Corlett) has had her Lloyds registry suspended as of 01/02/2005 due to a Overdue Survey. More Here. (external link).
15/07/05 It is reported that Loch Buie has a problem with one of her Voith units and is to return to the Clyde for dry docking and repair. To allow Loch Buie to return to the Clyde, it is expected that the following movements will take place -

Raasay from Fairlie to Tobermory

Bruernish from Oban to Tobermory

Loch Linnhe from Tobermory to Iona

Because it is the height of the season, it is assumed they intend to run both Island Class vessels at the same time to cope with demand. You may wish to view the Oban and Campbeltown webcams to keep track of vessel movements.

  Latest news on movements: Raasay will be spending tonight in Campbeltown en Route from Fairlie to Tobermory. She is expected to continue her voyage tomorrow.
14/07/05 It appears that Saturn has started her new roster today between Ardrossan & Brodick. Further Updates to follow...
  Other News:
  SoC will Join a united 2 minuet Silence at 12:00GMT to remember those who were caught in the London bombings on the Underground and on the Bus last Thursday.
12/07/05 Due to mechanical problems, the 0710 sailing from Rothesay was cancelled. It was reported that Bute has been taking the secondary roster sailings. Saturn has also been undertaking berthing trials at Ardrossan in readiness to begin her new role. A CalMac shore worker was noted painting on berthing marks under the captains supervision today. This should make berthing a lot easer at the Terminal.
  Terminal News:
  Ardrossan terminal was today being used for filming a programme. For a period the area was re-named Calais - Something not far off in this heat!
11/07/05 Bute entered service this morning on her new route; Wemyss Bay - Rothesay. This afternoon, Saturn was observed passing Hunterston on her way down to Ardrossan, ready to take up her new role as second ferry for the Ardrossan - Brodick route. First Day Service Pictures Here.

PICTURE: Conway McCulloch
Saturn heading for Ardrossan
PICTURE: Tom McGrattan
Saturn at former B&L berth, Ardrossan



MV Bute Open Day

Caledonian MacBrayne’s newest addition to the fleet the “MV Bute” will be open to the public for viewing at Rothesay pier at the following dates and times:

Thursday 7th July, 1600 – 1800hrs

Sunday 10th July, 1400 – 1700hrs

We look forward to welcoming you aboard.
10/07/05 NorthLink:  Extra sailing have been provided by NorthLink on the Aberdeen - Kirkwall (Hatston) -Lerwick route to help transport the extra passengers travelling to Shetland for the Island Games.  "Day Time" sailings were provided which was a strange sight at Kirkwall.  Normally the ships only arrive and depart in the late evening when it is dark.
09/07/05 Those interested in the current situation with Bute: She has been undergoing trials at Wemyss Bay and Rothesay with berthing, passenger gangway alignment and vehicle trails. She has completed there all very well as far as we can tell. She will begin to take up her first passenger / car sailings sometime next week.
01/07/05 Bute has just past Inverkip on the Clyde heading for Wemyss Bay at 10.15am.
Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has formally named its new ship to service the Isle of Bute at a ceremony at Rothesay. MV Bute arrived on the Clyde earlier this week. After successfully completing familiarisation work, she was formally named MV Bute by Mrs. Marjorie Bulloch from Rothesay, wife of the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Argyll, Lyn Bulloch.

Funding of up to £8.75million for the new ship was announced in October, 2003, by Minister of Transport, Nicol Stephen MSP. The ship is due to enter service on the Rothesay to Wemyss Bay service next week.

Speaking at the naming ceremony at Rothesay, CalMac Chairman Dr Harold Mills said: “We are all delighted to welcome the new ship into the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet. While the new MV Bute is the seventh ship on the Clyde to have the name, this new ferry will mark the start of the latest generation of car ferries on the Clyde. This is an important step towards the development of a 21st century ferry service for the island of Bute. It is vitally important now that all the relevant organisations come together to improve the infrastructure to enable us to operate at maximum efficiency. That means having a new linkspan in place in Rothesay as quickly as possible. Until that happens, MV Bute and her sister ship, which we hope to order soon, will obviously have to operate as side-loaders.”

Dr Mills has a special connection with the name MV Bute as he served in the late fifties on the previous MV Bute as an Assistant Purser to well known Rothesay Purser Peter Shaw.

MV Bute will carry up to 60 cars - nearly twice as many cars as the 38 carried by Streakers currently operating on the Clyde, and 450 passengers on CalMac’s busiest route.

CalMac also took the opportunity today to launch the latest in a series of books on historical aspects of their operation by Ian McCrorie. “Sea Routes to Rothesay” was launched as the new ship took a party of 250 invited guests on a cruise to Cumbrae and back.

The new book is available from the Marketing Department at Gourock (priced £6) and will be on sale through the CalMac website, which also has further details of MV Bute and her operating services.

When the new ship enters service next week, MV Saturn will be released to operate on the Ardrossan to Brodick route, providing additional sailings during the summer.

News Logs:
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