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 by David MacBrayne Ltd, which later merged with the Caledonian Steam Packet Company to become Caledonian MacBrayne, now CalMac Ferries Ltd.
In its first year, one of the ships, MV Hebrides carried 11,000 vehicles.
Speaking before sailing on the MV Hebrides from Uig to Tarbert, en route to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet meeting in Stornoway, 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.”
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.”
“The evolution of car ferries serving the Western Isles has continued with the MV Hallaig, the world’s first seagoing diesel-electric hybrid ferry taking up the Sconser-Raasay run in December and the introduction of the MV Loch Seaforth on the Stornoway-Ullapool route later this year.”
And 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, demonstrated in the early 1960s by the purchase of these three ships, is just as evident within the company now as it was then.”