MV LOCH SEAFORTH sailed her maiden voyage on 13th February 2015 on her route between Storonway and Ullapool.

Project Update: 25.11.14

CMAL works on behalf of Ullapool Harbour Trustees (UHT) as project managers for the harbour infrastructure upgrades required at Ullapool to accommodate the new ferry, MV LOCH SEAFORTH.  In 2012, the installation of the linkspan was put on hold, but the remainder of the works proceeded and were completed in September 2014.

In early 2014, Transport Scotland and CalMac Ferries Limited advised UHT a linkspan replacement is critical to ensure operational resilience once MV LOCH SEAFORTH was operational and to address the issue of the existing linkspan being unable to accommodate a number of alternative vessels.  As a result, the linkspan project has been progressed.  Timings have been agreed with the contractors to ensure installation is at the earliest opportunity and a circa six week period of traffic closure is required to remove the linkspan and install a new one.  The preparatory works have started and any postponement of the project now would incur significant delay costs to UHT and Transport Scotland.

All parties have been aware that the linkspan replacement will result in a period where a full vehicle service cannot be maintained.  CalMac Ferries Limited committed to leading all communications for the linkspan project because a closure will affect their customers.  Throughout the project, CMAL has worked on behalf of UHT to ensure that Transport Scotland and CalMac Ferries Limited are fully involved in decision making to ensure the project is completed with minimal service disruption.


MV LOCH SEAFORTH was handed over to the operator, CalMac Ferries Ltd, for familiarisation trials and training with her local crew on the route, before entering service.

Below are some recent images of MV LOCH SEAFORTH






Accommodation Block added

The video and images below shows the deck house being added to the MV LOCH SEAFORTH following her launch from dry dock. A special crane was used to lift the giant piece of steel onto the hull on Tuesday 25th March 2014.


The MV LOCH SEAFORTH was launched into the water on 21st March 2014 following a short launch ceremony and was officially named by her Godmother Joan Murray. Joan is the eldest daughter of the late Captain John Smith, of the original MV LOCH SEAFORTH which was the MacBrayne mailboat that linked Stornoway with Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh from 1947 until 1972.

A specially labelled version of Gordon and McPhail single malt whisky was produced to mark the launch of the ferry, a bottle of which was smashed against the vessel to officially launch it.

Commenting on the launch of MV LOCH SEAFORTH, Grenville Johnston, our previous Chairman said:

The launch is a very exciting stage of MV LOCH SEAFORTH’s build. This vessel is a fantastic new addition to the fleet and will serve one of our island communities for many years to come.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “This is an exciting landmark for the MV LOCH SEAFORTH as she moves a step closer to entering service. The vessel will offer passengers, cars and commercial vehicles using the Stornoway-Ullapool route a faster, quieter and more comfortable service and has been designed to accommodate the forecast demand on the route.  I am sure the vessel will serve the future needs of all local users and the many visitors to the Western Isles.

Keel laying ceremony

An important stage in the build of the MV Loch Seaforth happened on 3rd February 2014 with the laying of the keel, when the component parts of the ship were brought together in the first time. This marks the end of the fit out in the dry dock.

Cutting of the steel

The first piece of steel was cut on the 16 September 2013 for the MV LOCH SEAFORTH, marking the start of construction on the new vessel.The first steel-cutting ceremony took place at Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft MBH and Co KG shipyard in Flensburg, Germany, where the ship was built.  Andy Robertson and Nick Johnson from Lloyd’s Banking Group, joined our previous CEO Guy Platten and Andrew Duncan, Director of Vessels at CMAL to push the button to start the steel cutting machine.Guy Platten commented: “The steel cutting marks an exciting stage of the ferry building process as work gets underway on construction of the vessel.The steel cut was from block A03, which formed part of the ship’s hull near to the stern.

A name is chosen

MV LOCH SEAFORTH, was chosen following a competition open to the public in April 2013. The winning name attracted 40 per cent of the votes.  The winning vote, picked at random from almost 2,000 people was Mary Davidson from the Isle of Lewis who  attended the launch as a special guest.Loch Seaforth is a sea loch between Lewis and Harris.  The previous MV Loch Seaforth was the name of the MacBrayne mailboat that linked Stornoway with Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh from 1947 until 1972.  On 22 March 1973 she ran aground on Cleit Rock in the Sound of Gunna and was subsequently scrapped.

Artists impression of the new Stornoway-Ullapool ferry

New ferry announced

We announced in June 2012 that a contract had been formally signed to build a new £41.8 million Stornoway – Ullapool ferry. The decision to move to a single replacement vessel followed a Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance procedure and a subsequent detailed technical and financial analysis, as well as an extensive community consultation to examine options for future ferry provisions on the route.  These included plans for services when the existing freight vessel, MV MUIRNEAG, was withdrawn from the route, which happened in October 2013.

The new 116m roll on roll off vehicle passenger ferry is capable of operating 24 hours a day and  has a capacity of up to 700 passengers and 143 cars or 20 commercial vehicles.

The superior designed new vessel will be:

  • Be faster, quieter and more reliable than current vessels
  • Be adaptable to accommodate growth in traffic
  • Consume a quarter less fuel than the consumption of the MV Isle of Lewis and MV Muirneag

The ship was built at Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft MBH and Co KG – Flensburg, Germany. Financing is being provided by Lloyds Bank’s Corporate Asset Finance team.  CMAL will charter the vessel its operator, CalMac.

Transport Minister, Keith Brown, commentated:

The cutting edge design means the new vessel will be more fuel efficient and use a quarter less fuel than the combined fuel consumption of both vessels currently in operation. The new vessel will also incorporate new enhanced technical reliability which will allow maintenance during operation in turn minimising down time.