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Cllr Uisdean Robertson at the steel-cutting ceremony in Turkey in May this year. Photograph: CMAL

Two ships destined to serve the routes between Lochmaddy, Tarbert and Uig have today (Thursday November 30) reached the moment when the public gets to vote on their names.

The two Little Minch vessels are under construction at the Cemre shipyard in Turkey, where North Uist councillor Uisdean Robertson pressed the button for their first steel to be cut only in May this year.

Now Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has launched a public vote to help choose the names for the ferries from two groups of names inspired by the landscape and history of Harris and North Uist. 

Voters can select one name from each group, and the two most popular names will be given to the sister vessels. 

The shortlisted names are, in group one:

  • Eubhal — The highest hill on North Uist
  • Eilean Dorcha — A Gaelic name given to Benbecula, meaning Dark Island in English
  • Claymore — The word ‘claymore’ comes from the Gaelic Claidheamh Mòr, meaning ‘great sword’; a historical name previously given to iconic vessels
  • Orasay —A tidal island in South Uist and a bay in North Uist

And in group two:

  • Pioneer — A historical name previously given to iconic vessels, including one that served similar routes in the mid-1980s
  • Scotasay — A small island just off the East coast of Harris
  • Clisham — The highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides, located on North Harris
  • Lochmor — A historical name previously given to a vessel that served ports of the Little Minch

The public have been invited to cast votes at from today until midnight on Monday December 18.

Kevin Hobbs, chief executive of CMAL, said: “We have compiled a strong list of names, each having a connection to the islands these ships will serve. I look forward to seeing which ones prove most popular amongst the public.”

Minister for Transport, Fiona Hyslop, said: “It’s good to see the potential names for both Little Minch vessels all have strong connections to local landmarks and Scottish heritage.”

Work on the ferries is reported to be progressing well at Cemre Shipyard in Turkey, with delivery of both vessels expected towards the second half of 2025.

The ferries are being designed and built to the same specification as the two new vessels for Islay, MV Isle of Islay and MV Loch Indaal.

The picture shows Cllr Uisdean Robertson at the steel-cutting ceremony in Turkey in May this year (CMAL).