The MV Loch Shira (call sign MQPQ9) is one of the latest Roll-on/Roll-off (RO-RO) passenger ferries to be added to the fleet of Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL). CMAL has leased the vessel to Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries (CALMAC), which is responsible for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services. CMAL and CALMAC were originally part of the same company but split into an asset management firm and ship operator shortly before the Loch Shira was launched in December 2006.
The ship entered service following fitting out and sea trials in June 2007. The new vessel will serve passengers travelling between Largs in Ayrshire (the Largs Pier has been remodelled to accommodate the new vessel) and the island of Cumbrae.
The ship is named after a small arm of Loch Fyne, Argyllshire at the foot of Glen Shira.
CONSTRUCTION AND FINANCE
The ship required an investment of £6.4m. The funds for the Loch Shira were loaned from the Scottish Executive transport budget. The initial costs of building were set at £5.8m but this seems to have increased over the period of construction.
The steel Double Screw Motor Vessel (DSMV) ship was constructed at Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow (Yard no 721) after the yard won a tender process in November 2005. The vessel is 230t, 54.27m long, 13.9m wide with a draught of 1.8m and capable of speeds up to 10k.
The two diesel engines were manufactured by Caterpillar and are rated at 559bkW at 1,800rpm. The 113kW auxiliary generators were produced by Cummins/Stamford. The propulsion units for the vessel are Vioth 16 R5-rated at 540kW at 625rpm.
LOCH SHIRA FACILITIES
The ship was designed to operate in UK sheltered waters and has an open vehicle deck and hinged vehicle access ramps at either end of the vessel. The ship has two passenger lounges; the lower being able to accommodate 60 passengers and the upper running across and above the vehicle deck with external seating.
The ship can carry 250 passengers and 24 cars or alternatively a mix of cars and goods vehicles (the vessel’s full car capacity is 36). It also includes provision for vehicles with dangerous cargos. There is a single vehicle deck divided into three lanes with the centre lane wide enough for two cars or a heavy goods vehicle.