MV Suilven

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The Stornoway ferry off Ullapool - - 1552974.jpg
MV Suilven off Ullapool
Name: MV Suilven
Namesake: Suilven
Port of registry:
Yard number: 180
Launched: 19 April 1974[2]
Acquired: 1974
In service: 27 August 1974
Out of service:

July 1995 (with Caledonian MacBrayne)

2004 (with Strait Shipping)

2015 (with Bligh Water Shipping)

November 2015 (with Venu Shipping Limited)
  • IMO number7383487[3]
  • MMSI Number: 512000060 (NZ); 520090000 (Fiji)[4]
  • Callsign: GULA; 3DYS (Fiji)
Fate: Sunk in Suva harbour, 24 November 2015
Status: Salvageable Partial Wreck
General characteristics
Tonnage: 1980
Length: 86.52 metres (283.9 ft)
Beam: 16.03 metres (52.6 ft)
Draught: 4.96 metres (16.3 ft)
Installed power: 2 x 7-cyl, Wichmann Diesel 1300kW [2]
Propulsion: 2 x variable-pitch propellers & 2 x Brunvoll SPK300 bow thrusters
Speed: 16 knots (service)
Capacity: 500 passengers, 120 cars
Crew: 25

MV Suilven was a vehicle ferry built in 1974 and operated for 21 years by Caledonian MacBrayne on the Ullapool to Stornoway route. She subsequently operated in New Zealand and later in Fiji.


Suilven was the second of twins, intended for Oslofjord and named after the mountain peak Suilven in Sutherland . She was bought off the stocks in 1974 and modified to comply with British standards for the Lewis service.[5] She remained on the route until 1995, when she was replaced by the larger MV Isle of Lewis.[6]


The car deck featured two lanes either side of the central casing and featured two hoistable mezzanine decks for additional car capacity. Car deck access was via a two piece bow ramp and visor, with a single piece stern ramp. The superstructure featured a foremast above the wheel house carrying the radar scanners and aerials, and a main mast aft incorporated into the forward edge of the funnel, cleverly concealing the main engine exhausts. Her original single lounge bar saloon was soon divided with a screen to cordon off different areas. The cafeteria and servery was situated aft of the saloon and in common with vessels of the time, she was fitted out with a number of sleeping berths allowing passengers to embark the night before an early departure.

Early in her Caledonian MacBrayne career, she was fitted with stabilisers, improving stability. Suilven was the first vessel in the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet to carry the fleet branding on the hull side in large steel letters, welded to the hull side. Air conditioning was fitted for her service in Fiji.[5]


Suilven was purchased for the Stornoway to Ullapool route, a replacement for the 1964 MV Clansman. She operated the route for 21 years, giving two crossings per day in summer reducing, until 1979, to one in winter.[5] In October 1989, MV Isle of Mull's larger passenger capacity was required for those travelling to the Mòd in Stornoway. For those 10 days, Suilven took over the Oban-Craignure service.[5]

By the 1990s, she was increasingly inadequate for the traffic on the service and unacceptably slow and the larger MV Isle of Lewis was built, offering superior capacity and facilities, entering service in July 1995.

No longer required in Scotland, she was sold to Strait Shipping, for service between the North Island and South Island of New Zealand.[5] In 2004, she was moved to Fiji and operated between Suva, Savusavu (on Vanua Levu) and Taveuni.[7]

In August 2012, Suilven was advertised for sale and expected to be sold as scrap for demolition; however, in late 2012, it was reported that Ben Naidu, owner of Venu Shipping, had acquired the ship for refitting and further service in Fiji, for an undisclosed sum. It was believed that, for the first time in her history, the ship would be renamed.[8][9]

On 24 November 2015 Suilven capsized in Suva harbour. There were no passengers aboard as the ship was only carrying cargo at the time of the incident, the crew were rescued, no one injured.[10]


  1. ^ "Ferry Starts Sailing From Natovi Today". Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b "The Fleet - Suilven". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Vessel Search - Suilven". Digital Seas. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Suilven - IMO 7383487". Shipspotting. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e "History - Suilven". Ships of Calmac. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Caledonian MacBrayne - Former Vessels (and Other Steamers)". Iain Murray. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Bligh Water Shipping". Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Fiji Sun". Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Hebrides News". Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Ferry capsizes off Fijian capital Suva". Retrieved 24 November 2015.

External links

  • "Images of Suilven". Simplon Postcards. Retrieved 25 January 2011.

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