© John JonesMV Hebridean Princess – Past and Present

MV Hebridean Princess

ex Columba

© John Jones

© John Jones

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1964 by Hall, Russell & Co. Ltd, Aberdeen (Yard No 912) for Secretary of State for Scotland, Leith.

Technical Data

  • Length: 71.63m (235 ft)
  • Breadth of hull: 14.10m (46 ft )
  • Draught: 2.74m (10 ft)
  • Tonnage: 2,104 gross/240 deadweight
  • Engines: 2 x 2 SCSA Crossley diesels each 8 cyls. 10 ½” – 13 ½
  • Power/Propellers: 1790 kW/2
  • Speed: 14 knots
  • Capacity: 870 passengers 50 cars (1964) , 53 passengers (1988), 65 passengers (1989)
  • Crew: 37
  • Navigation Officers: British.
  • Passenger Decks: 5
  • Call Sign: GNHV
  • IMO Number: 6409351
  • MMSI Number: 232649000
  • Registry: Leith/ Scotland, Glasgow
  • Sister Ships: Clansman, Hebrides

Current Location

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March 12th 1964: Launched.

June 1964:

“The COLUMBA , CLANSMAN and HEBRIDES were built for The Secretary of State for Scotland and bareboat chartered to David MacBrayne Ltd being registered at Leith until 1972 when it was changed to Glasgow. All three ships had very elaborate guillotine doors which closed off the main car deck aft of the hoist. Every external doorway and vent had a heavy duty water / air tight door even the galley garbage hatch had a heavy hatch which could be closed and dogged. On the prom deck as part of the engineers accommodation were two decontamination rooms which consisted of a heavy steel watertight door on the outside, elaborate shower equipment which would look more at home in Sellafield and a steel inner door giving access to the internal accommodation. The three 1964 sisters all had a “citadel” and “pre-wetting” system fitted. Basically all upper deck doors and other openings were fitted with gas tight seals and there was the facility to increase the air pressure inside the enclosed spaces when these openings were hermetically sealed to prevent the ingress of contamination (Nuclear, Biological or Chemical). Hence everyone inside the ship (in the Citadel) would be protected from fallout. The outside decks had a system of water pipes running all round the ship, with sprinklers. The idea was that if the ship sailed through an area of nuclear contamination the sprinklers would spray water all over the outside of the ship and wash away any contamination. Fortunately the systems were never put to the test for real. These ships were built to Government account at the height of the Cold War. There was a lot of speculation as to their use in times of hostilities but the instruction was that they would be given over to the Military Authorities. As for the COLUMBA this equipment was kept up to standard until her sale to Hebridean Island Cruises.”

July 30th 1964: Introduced between Oban – Craignure – Lochaline.

Photoship   Photoship


1974: Registered to David MacBrayne Ltd., Glasgow, Scotland.

© William MacDonald

🆕© William MacDonald

1983: Laid up in reserve.

1988: Sold to Leisure & Marine Holdings plc, Glasgow, Scotland. Rebuilt at George Prior Engineering Ltd., Great Yarmouth for cruising.

April 26th 1989: Renamed HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS by the Duchess of York.

May 1989: Commenced cruising from Oban.

October 30th 1989: Accommodation rebuilt and increased at Great Yarmouth.

© John Jones

© John Jones

2006: In Service Registered owner: Leisure & Marine Holdings, UK. Ship manager: Hebridean Island Cruises Ltd, UK.

© Ken Smith  © Ken Smith

© Ken Smith

July 22nd 2006: Celebrating her 80th birthday, HM The Queen chartered the vessel for a no fixed itinerary eight-day cruise, except for some undisclosed stops to pick up and drop off various members of her family. The cruise began at Port Ellen on Islay.

© John Mavin

August 11th 2018: Due at Dover

© John Mavin  © John Mavin

© John Mavin

© John Mavin

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: John Jones, William MacDonald, John Mavin, Ken Smith and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)

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