Orkney Ferries
Orkney Ferries is a company operating inter-island ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 services in Orkney, to the north of mainland Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...



The company is owned by the Orkney Islands Council and was established in 1960 as the Orkney Islands Shipping Company.

In 1991 the Orkney Islands Shipping Company acquired a private sector ferry company also called Orkney Ferries, which had been established to compete on the short sea crossing from the Scottish mainland to the Orkney Islands, but which had not succeeded in establishing the route. This company's ferry was assimilated into the inter-island fleet, and in 1995 the Orkney Islands Shipping Company adopted the name Orkney Ferries. Despite this acquisition and change of name, the current Orkney Ferries does not operate services to and from the Scottish mainland, leaving this to other operators such as Northlink Ferries
Northlink Ferries
NorthLink Ferries operates daily ferry services between mainland Scotland and the northern archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland. NorthLink Ferries is a wholly owned subsidiary of David MacBrayne Ltd, whose sole shareholder is the Scottish Government.-History:...

 and Pentland Ferries
Pentland Ferries
Pentland Ferries is a privately owned, family company which has operated a ferry service between Gills Bay in Caithness, Scotland and St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay in Orkney since May 2001.-History:...



Orkney Ferries operate between the Orkney mainland
The Mainland, Orkney
The Mainland is the main island of Orkney, Scotland. Both of Orkney's burghs, Kirkwall and Stromness, lie on the island, which is also the heart of Orkney's ferry and air connections....

 and thirteen of the smaller islands. Services include:
  • The North Isles service, linking Kirkwall
    Kirkwall is the biggest town and capital of Orkney, off the coast of northern mainland Scotland. The town is first mentioned in Orkneyinga saga in the year 1046 when it is recorded as the residence of Rögnvald Brusason the Earl of Orkney, who was killed by his uncle Thorfinn the Mighty...

     on Orkney Mainland
    The Mainland, Orkney
    The Mainland is the main island of Orkney, Scotland. Both of Orkney's burghs, Kirkwall and Stromness, lie on the island, which is also the heart of Orkney's ferry and air connections....

     to the northern isles of Eday
    Eday is one of the Orkney Islands, which are located to the north of the Scottish mainland in the United Kingdom. Eday is located in the North Isles of Orkney, and is about north of the main island of Orkney Mainland...

    , Stronsay
    Stronsay is an island in Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland. The main village is Whitehall, home to a heritage centre. It is in size, and at its highest point....

    , Sanday
    Sanday, Orkney
    Sanday is one of the inhabited islands in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. With an area of , it is the third largest of the Orkney Islands. The main centres of population are Lady Village and Kettletoft. Sanday can be reached by Orkney Ferries or plane from Kirkwall on the...

    , Westray
    Westray is one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, with a population of around 550 people. Its main village is Pierowall, with a heritage centre, the ruined Lady Kirk and ferries to Papa Westray.-Geography and geology:...

    , Papa Westray
    Papa Westray
    Papa Westray, also known as Papay, is one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, with a population of 65 at the time of the 2001 Census, now increased to 70 people...

    , and North Ronaldsay
    North Ronaldsay
    North Ronaldsay is the northernmost of the Orkney Islands, Scotland and with an area of is the fourteenth largest.-Geography:North Ronaldsay lies around north of its nearest neighbour, Sanday at . The island is around long along its length and is defined by two large sandy bays; Linklet Bay on...

  • The Shapinsay service, linking Kirkwall on Orkney Mainland to the northern island of Shapinsay
    Shapinsay is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. There is one village on the island, Balfour, from which roll-on/roll-off car ferries sail to Kirkwall on the Orkney Mainland...

  • The Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre service, linking Tingwall on Orkney Mainland to the northern isles of Rousay
    Rousay is a small, hilly island about north of Orkney's Mainland, off the north coast of Scotland, and has been nicknamed "the Egypt of the north", due to its tremendous archaeological diversity and importance....

    , Egilsay
    Egilsay is one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland, lying east of Rousay. The island is largely farmland and is known for its corncrakes.-St. Magnus Church:...

     and Wyre
    Wyre, Orkney
    Wyre, also formerly spelt Weir, is one of the Orkney Islands, lying south-east of Rousay. It is and at its highest point. It is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the archipelago....

  • The South Isles service, linking Houton
    Houton is a settlement 5 miles southeast of Stromness on the island of Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. From here, a ferry sails to Lyness on Hoy and the oil terminal at Flotta. Nearby are the remains of the round church of St Nicholas and the Earl's Bu, the ruins of a former manor house of the Earldom...

     on the Orkney Mainland to the southern islands of Hoy
    Hoy is an island in Orkney, Scotland. With an area of it is the second largest in the archipelago after the Mainland. It is connected by a causeway called The Ayre to South Walls...

     and Flotta
    Flotta is a small island in Orkney, Scotland, lying in Scapa Flow. The island is known for its large oil terminal and is linked by Orkney Ferries to Houton on the Orkney Mainland and Lyness and Longhope on Hoy....

  • The Graemsay and North Hoy service, linking Stromness
    Stromness is the second-biggest town in Orkney, Scotland. It is in the south-west of Mainland Orkney. It is also a parish, with the town of Stromness as its capital.-Etymology:...

     on Orkney Mainland to the southern islands of Hoy and Graemsay
    Graemsay is an island in the western approaches to Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The island has two lighthouses.-Geography and geology:...

  • The Westray to Papa Westray service, linking the islands of Westray and Papa Westray.


Orkney Ferries operates a fleet of inter-island vessels, most of which were specially built for service in the islands. The fleet includes:
  • MVs and , both built by McTay Marine
    McTay Marine
    -Facilities:The McTay Marine shipyard is located at Bromborough on the South bank of the River Mersey, in the North West of England. The purpose built facilities are arranged on a site with ramped slipway facilities directly into the River Mersey...

     of Bromborough
    Bromborough is a large village within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in Merseyside, England. It is situated on the Wirral Peninsula, to the south of Bebington and to the north of Eastham...

     in 1990. These ferries carry 190 passengers and 25 cars, and are normally used on the North Isles service., built by Cochrane Shipbuilders
    Cochrane Shipbuilders
    Cochrane Shipbuilders was a shipbuilder at Shelby. Originally founded by Andrew Cochrane at Beverley, England in 1884, establishing Cochrane & Sons in 1896. The ship building company moved to Selby in 1898. The yard passed into the ownership of the Ross Group in 1965, and later to the Drypool...

     of Selby
    Selby is a town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England. Situated south of the city of York, along the course of the River Ouse, Selby is the largest and, with a population of 13,012, most populous settlement of the wider Selby local government district.Historically a part of the West Riding...

     in 1988 for the earlier Orkney Ferries, and acquired with the company in 1991. This ferry carries 144 passengers and 32 cars, and is normally used on the North Isles service., built by Yorkshire Drydock of Hull
    Kingston upon Hull
    Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

     in 1989. This ferry carries 91 passengers and 11 cars, and is normally used on the Shapinsay service., built by Campbeltown Shipyard of Campbeltown
    Campbeltown is a town and former royal burgh in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies by Campbeltown Loch on the Kintyre peninsula. Originally known as Kinlochkilkerran , it was renamed in the 17th century as Campbell's Town after Archibald Campbell was granted the site in 1667...

     in 1991. This ferry carries 125 passengers and 16 cars, and is used on both the Shapinsay and South Isles services., built by Bideford Shipyard of Bideford
    Bideford is a small port town on the estuary of the River Torridge in north Devon, south-west England. It is also the main town of the Torridge local government district.-History:...

     in 1973. This passenger ferry carries 40 passengers, and is normally used on the Westray to Papa Westray service., built by Ailsa Shipbuilding Company
    Ailsa Shipbuilding Company
    -History:The company was founded in 1885 by the 3rd Marquess of Ailsa.In 1902 the Ailsa yard fitted out the polar exploration ship Scotia for the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1902-04...

     of Troon
    Troon is a town in South Ayrshire. It is situated on the west coast of Scotland, about eight miles north of Ayr and three miles northwest of Glasgow Prestwick International Airport. Lying across the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Arran can be seen. Troon is also a port with freight and ferry services...

     in 1996. This ferry carries 73 passengers and 1 car, and is normally used on the Graemsay and North Hoy service., built by Abels Shipbuilders
    Abels Shipbuilders
    Abels Shipbuilders Ltd is a ship and boat builder in Bristol, England. They are now the largest remaining shipbuilder in Bristol.-Business:...

     of Bristol
    Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

     in 1987. This ferry carries 95 passengers and 11 cars, and is normally used on the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre service., built by Appledore Shipbuilders
    Appledore Shipbuilders
    -History:The Appledore Yard was founded in 1855 on the estuary of the River Torridge. The Richmond Dry Dock was built in 1856 by William Yeo and named after Richmond Bay in Prince Edward Island, where the Yeo family's shipping fleet was based....

     of Appledore in 1994. This ferry carries 125 passengers and 18 cars, and is normally used on the South Isles service.

External links

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