Highlands & Islands

CalMac celebrates anniversary of first car ferry sailing

MV Isle of Lewis Image copyright Colin Smith/Geograph
Image caption The firm is set to modernise its fleet with the introduction of a new electric-diesel powered ferry this year.

Ferry operator CalMac is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the introduction of car ferry sailings in the Western Isles.

The first drive on, drive off ships were introduced in the area in 1964.

In its first year of operating the route one of the ships, MV Hebrides, carried 11,000 vehicles.

The service was described as being a "vital lifeline" to local communities by the Scottish government.

The ferry route was originally introduced by David MacBrayne Ltd, which later merged with the Caledonian Steam Packet Company to become Caledonian MacBrayne, now known as CalMac Ferries Ltd.

Speaking before sailing on the MV Hebrides from Uig to Tarbert, Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "I am delighted that CalMac is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first car ferry sailing to the Western Isles.

"The company provides vital lifeline services to Scotland's island communities."

Desire to innovate

CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester said: "The introduction of these ships revolutionised ferry services at the time and this anniversary shows just how far the company has come and how services have improved in 50 years."

He added: "CalMac Ferries Ltd now operates the services previously delivered by David MacBrayne Ltd, but today's ferry travellers can be assured that the desire to improve and innovate services, is just as evident within the company now as it was then."

The firm are set to modernise its fleet later this year with the introduction of the MV Hallaig, the first seagoing electric-diesel hybrid ferry, in December.

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