Public vote launched to name new vessels

Uisdean Robertson pressing the button on the steel cutting

CALEDONIAN Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has launched a public vote to help choose the names for two new ferries to serve the Little Minch routes.

CMAL, which owns the vessels, has produced two groups of names inspired by the landscape and history of Harris and North Uist. Voters can select one name from each group, and the two most popular names will be given to the sister vessels. 

The shortlisted names are:

Group 1:

  • Eubhal — The highest hill on North Uist
  • Eilean Dorcha — A Gaelic name given to Benbecula, meaning Dark Island in English
  • Claymore — The word ‘claymore’ comes from the Gaelic Claidheamh Mòr, meaning ‘great sword’; a historical name previously given to iconic vessels
  • Orasay —A tidal island in South Uist and a bay in North Uist

Group 2: 

  • Pioneer — A historical name previously given to iconic vessels, including one that served similar routes in the mid-1980s
  • Scotasay — A small island just off the East coast of Harris
  • Clisham — The highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides, located on North Harris
  • Lochmor — A historical name previously given to a vessel that served ports of the Little Minch

The public can cast their votes at from today, Thursday 30th November 2023 until midnight on Monday 18th December 2023.

Kevin Hobbs, chief executive of CMAL, said: 

“The two new vessels for the Little Minch routes will be a welcome addition to our fleet – however, they are currently nameless.

“We have compiled a strong list of names, each having a connection to the islands these ships will serve. I look forward to seeing which ones prove most popular amongst the public.”

Minister for Transport, Fiona Hyslop, said: 

“It’s good to see the potential names for both Little Minch vessels all have strong connections to local landmarks and Scottish heritage.

“I would encourage people to cast their votes to ensure the new vessels have suitable titles for when they formally join the fleet serving the Clyde and Hebrides.”  

Work on the ferries is progressing well at Cemre Shipyard in Turkey, with the steel cutting of the first Little Minch vessel having taken place in May 2023. Delivery of both vessels is expected towards the second half of 2025.

The ferries will be designed and built to the same specification as the two new vessels for Islay, MV Isle of Islay and MV Loch Indaal.

Both Little Minch vessels have a clear focus on optimising freight and passenger accommodation, with capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars or 14 commercial vehicles. This will improve the overall resilience of the wider fleet.

The Little Minch vessels form part of a programme of investment by CMAL, funded through Scottish Government commitments to capital investments of around £700 million in ferry infrastructure and related services over the five years from 2021 to 2026. Wider plans will deliver other new small and major vessels for the fleet and upgrades of harbour infrastructure, with future options being considered through the emerging Islands Connectivity Plan.

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