End of road for former Rothesay ferry

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WORK has begun on the scrapping of the former Caledonian MacBrayne ‘streaker’, MV Juno, a regular on the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay run during more than 30 years of service with the company.

The Juno’s last sailing for the company was on April 21, 2007, when she ‘shadowed’ one of her replacements, MV Bute, on a crossing from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay; she had been laid up at Rosneath pier in the Gare Loch ever since, and was manoeuvred on to the adjacent beach on Wednesday, ready for a specialist recycling team to begin their work.

The vessel is being dismantled under the UK Ship Recycling Strategy, a DEFRA initiative supported by the Scottish Government which applies to all vessels above five hundred gross tonnes owned by the UK government and its agencies.

Though built for the Gourock-Dunoon run, the Juno, which was launched at James Lamont & Co’s Port Glasgow yard in September 1974, was regularly rostered to the Rothesay service from the mid-1980s onwards.

In her final few months, her passenger certificate had to be specially extended to allow her to provide cover on the Wemyss Bay route due to over-running work on the new end-loading linkspan at Rothesay pier which prevented her larger replacements from operating on the service.

The future of CalMac’s other two streakers, MVs Jupiter and Saturn, seems scarcely less clear; the Jupiter has been laid up at Rosneath since last October, while the destiny of the Saturn seems likely to depend on the outcome of the Gourock-Dunoon tendering process, with the name of the successful bidder due to be announced on May 25 and the operation of a new contract scheduled to begin on June 30.

Between them the three ‘streakers’ have provided CalMac with well over a century of service; the Jupiter clocked up 36 and a half years of passenger operation and the Juno almost 32 and a half, while the Saturn is still operating the Dunoon service, 33 years and almost four months after her launch.