Former CalMac ferry capsizes in Fiji harbour

The MV Suilven, seen off the coast of Ullapool in 1979. Picture: Neil Clifton/geograph.co.uk
The MV Suilven, seen off the coast of Ullapool in 1979. Picture: Neil Clifton/geograph.co.uk
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A FORMER Caledonian MacBrayne ferry has capsized in a harbour in Fiji.

The MV Suilven, a Cal Mac ferry for over 20 years on the Stornoway to Ullapool route, capsized in the habour of Fijian capital of Suva.

Local TV reports suggested that the vessel had started listing as it entered the harbour, with emergency services called to the scene.

All 31 on board are believed to have been rescued.

The MV Suilven currently operates as an inter-island ferry travelling between Suva, Savusavu and Taveuni.

Now owned by Bligh Water Shipping, the MV Suilven previously sailed under a New Zealand flag after being bought by Strait Shipping and operated routes between Wellington and Picton, and Wellington and Nelson, before being sold on in 2004.

In August 2012 the vessel was put up for sale, with the expectation that she would be sold for scrap and dismantled.

However, later that year it was reported that Venu Shipping chief Ben Naidu had acquired the ship and planned a refit and further service in Fiji.

Built by Moss Rosenberg of Norway, MV Suilven entered service in 1974 and was brought into replace Cal Mac’s ageing MV Clansman.

But by the early 1990s, the amount of traffic on the service combined with MV Suilven’s lack of speed led to the larger MV Isle of Lewis being built. It entered service in 1995, replacing the older ship.

Named for the Suilven mountain range in Sutherland, MV Suilven was the first Cal Mac vessel to carry the fleet branding on her hull side in large steel letters.