MV Hebridean Isles is a ro-ro vehicle ferry owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and operated by Caledonian MacBrayne on the west coast of Scotland. She was the first MacBrayne vessel to be built outside Scotland and the first to be launched sideways. With bow and side ramps, Hebridean Isles is suitable for all the routes served by the large fleet units. After 15 years crossing the Little Minch on the Uig triangle, she now serves Islay. MV Hebridean Isles was constructed at Cochrane’s yard in Selby and launched sideways into the Ouse in 1985, she was the first MacBrayne vessel to be built outside Scotland, the first to be launched sideways and the first to be launched by royalty – the Duchess of Kent. Broadly similar to the MV Isle of Arran she was designed to be suitable for use anywhere within the network, although intended for the Uig triangle. Following her delivery voyage, she conducted trials at various ports around the network and did not take up duties at Uig, Skye until spring 1986.
MV Columba, the winter relief ship continued there while construction works were carried out at the various piers. New linkspans were required at all three terminals; the new ferry found temporary employment as a winter relief vessel at Ullapool and Oban, where she stood in for the MV Caledonia and MV Glen Sannox. When she took over at Uig, she still had to use her hoist at the Skye terminal for eight months while the new berth at the end of the long pier was finished, she brought vastly improved standards of passenger comfort and became popular, with reduced sailing times and, once she was able to use her bow and stern ramps reduced turn-round times. MV Hebridean Isles' design incorporates a bow visor and stern ramps, a vehicle hoist with side ramps; this made her suitable for all the routes served by the large fleet units. Her spacious car deck can accommodate 70 cars, with passenger accommodation on two decks forward of the hoist. One deck comprises the cafeteria furthest aft the entrance concourse and information point, with the reclining lounge and bar towards the bow.
The bar was converted to a Coffee Cabin in December 2008. Above the cafeteria is the observation lounge with crew accommodation forward of this; the bridge is on the next level at the bow. Externally there is ample deck space including, like the Isle of Arran, a deck area forward of the bridge, giving passengers a view ahead. MV Hebridean Isles spent her first 15 years exclusively on her intended crossing of the Little Minch, she sailed from Uig on Skye to Tarbert and Lochmaddy, using her stern ramp at Uig and her bow visor and ramp at both Tarbert and Lochmaddy. There were no Sunday sailings to Harris. After 15 years demand became too much and in 2001 she was replaced by the new MV Hebrides. Hebridean Isles headed south as the dedicated Islay ferry. Operating out of Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula, she sailed to Port Askaig. On summer Wednesdays she continued to Oban, returning to Kennacraig in the evening. Between 2003 and 2011, she was joined by Isle of Arran in the summer, to provide a series of additional sailings throughout the week and to maintain the service on Wednesdays during the Oban extension.
For six months from October 2002, she was chartered to Northlink Ferries and inaugurated their Stromness to Scrabster service. She continues to relieve there each winter. During June and July 2010, Hebridean Isles was redeployed on the Oban to Coll and Tiree run, replacing MV Clansman, which had suffered major engine problems, she hit the pier at Scarinish, Tiree, on the late afternoon of 29 June 2010, sustaining a hole above the waterline. Reverse pitch was selected prior to the collision but an unspecified problem prevented reverse engaging; the vessel returned to Oban for repair and resumed the Coll and Tiree run two days after the incident. In summer 2011, MV Finlaggan joined Hebridean Isles as the main Islay vessel, meanwhile Isle of Arran became a spare vessel. On 28 January 2014, it was announced that Hebridean Isles would temporarily take over freight services between Ullapool and Stornoway in the Western Isles, due to the freight ferry MS Clipper Ranger colliding with the pier at Stornoway.
Hebridean Isles relieved on the Uig Triangle, alongside MV Isle of Arran, in January and February 2016 whilst MV Hebrides was away covering for other vessels. In July 2016, she collided with the pier at Kennacraig, with her traffic being carried by the MV Finlaggan and the cargo boat MV Red Princess. In October 2016, Hebridean Isles provided a twice-nightly freight service on the Ullapool - Stornoway route whilst MV Loch Seaforth was in dry-dock. From 3 January to 21 January 2017, Hebridean Isles relieved on the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry crossing alongside MV Isle of Arran in place of MV Caledonian Isles, away for her annual overhaul, she repeated this service in January 2018, 2019 and 2020. During April and May 2018, Hebridean Isles operated an Oban-Lochboisdale service, whilst MV Lord of the Isles was away from the Mallaig-Lochboisdale route, covering for MV Clansman's repair at James Watt Dock in Greenock. In September 2018, Hebridean Isles relieved on the Ardrossan-Brodick crossing in place of MV Isle of Arran.
During this time, Isle of Arran was out of service owing to issues with her propeller shaft, MV Caledonian Isles had sustained damage to her loading ramps whilst carrying an overweight vehicle. Hebridean Isles provided additional cover on the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry crossing, in addition to her first sailing to Campbeltown, with Caledonian Isles operating with a reduced capacity. Additionally, MV Loch Linnhe provided additional sailings on the Claonaig to Lochranza crossing to help ease congestion. After relieving
Merpati Nusantara Airlines Flight 9760 was a domestic commercial passenger 50-minutes flight, flying from Sentani Airport in Papua's Province Jayapura to Oksibil Airport in Oksibil, Indonesia operated by a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300. On Sunday, August 2, 2009, while carrying fifteen people over Papua, the aircraft went missing en route, its wreckage was found a few miles from Oksibil two days later. All 12 passengers and 3 crew members were killed in the accident. Indonesian Investigation Agency, NTSC released the final report and concluded that the cause of the crash was controlled flight into terrain; the pilots did not maintain visual flight rules while flying below lowest safe altitude, thus impacting terrain. NTSC stated that the crash was "not survivable". Merpati Flight 9760 took off at 10:15 with an estimated time of arrival at Oksibil of 11:05, it was the second flight using the same aircraft with the first flight departed at 06.50 A. M local time; the flight was planned to use Visual Flight Rules instead of Instrument Flight Rules.
Fuel was sufficient for at least 2 hours and 50 minutes. Flight crews did not report any problems related to the aircraft as the plane took off from Sentani Airport, but at 10:28, the plane had lost contact. Control Tower frantically tried to contact the missing plane; the plane missed the scheduled arrival. An INCERFA was declared by the tower; the plane still missing on 13:05 P. M. At this point, the plane should have run out of fuel. A search team was assembled by Indonesian National Rescue Agency. Two days the wreckage of the plane found at the elevation of 9,300 feet. All fifteen people on board were fatally injured; the plane was found disintegrated due to massive impact force. The impact force was so big; the plane had crashed in a good weather. Another aircraft in the vicinity informed Flight 9760 that the weather around Oksibil Airport was cloudy; the aircraft, a DHC-6-300 with tail number PK-NVC was a 30-year-old airframe and was not equipped with a flight data recorder. The aircraft involved in the accident was a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 registered as PK-NVC with serial number 626.
The aircraft was manufactured in 1979 and was acquired in 2007. It has over 30,000 flying hours and was equipped with a turbo propeller from Pratt & Whitney Canada, manufactured by Hartzell. Fifteen people were including three crew and twelve passengers. All of them were Indonesian; the passengers consisted of ten adults and two infants, while the crews consisted of two pilots and one flight engineer. The Captain, had logged 8,387 hours of flying experience; the First Officer had logged in 1,207 hours of flying experience. The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee opened an investigation into the accident; the cause was found to be controlled flight into terrain. In the report, Merpati Nusantara Airlines were stated not to have co-operated with the NTSC as they had not provided the investigators full details of the crew's line checks and training undertaken; the National Transportation Safety Committee found that there were no maintenance defects found on the aircraft. The aircraft was loaded with cargo within limit, ruled out overloading.
The weather in the area of the flight was reported by local villagers to have been clear in the valleys, with cloud on the mountains and slopes. About 25 minutes prior to the accident, the crews contacted with another crew from a Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft owned by Indonesian Air Force which flying from Oksibil to Sentani, said that they were 100 miles from Jayapura, en route to Oksibil; the pilot of the Hercules informed the crew of Flight 9760 that over Oksibil the cloud base was low, with cloud tops between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. As the cloud tops to 12,500 feet, the Hercules pilot informed that the crew of Flight 9760 had to detour via Kiriwok to avoid the cloud; the aircraft was not equipped with a flight data recorder. Indonesian regulations did not require a FDR to be fitted to the Twin Otter aircraft. However, the aircraft was equipped with a Cockpit Voice Recorder. Indonesian Civil Aviation regulations required that a serviceable CVR was to be fitted to the Twin Otter aircraft. Search and Rescue personnel recovered the CVR from the wreckage and handed it over to NTSC investigators.
The outer box had minor damage. About 20 minutes before the impact, the pilots were discussing the area they were flying over, made comments about the local inhabitants. Fifteen minutes before impact, the pilot in command said to the copilot "Let's fly direct Oksibil"; the copilot asked "Direct brother?" The PIC replied "Direct, the sky is blue over there and the layer of the cloud is 10,000 feet". One minute the copilot gave a position report to ATC stating: One two three zero traffic, Merpati nine seven six zero delay, Sentani to Oksibil, position approaching Melam maintain nine thousand five hundred, estimate Abmisibil zero two zero one, arrival zero two zero eight; this transmission was blocked by other transmissions and there was no evidence on recorded communications that the position report was acknowledged by ATC. During the 20 minutes before the impact there was no discussion about aircraft problems or navigation difficulties. However, ten minutes before impact the pilot in command mentioned climbing to 10,000 feet, stated "if we cannot go visual I will turn left".
The cockpit conversations did not exhibit any signs of stress or concern until 2 minutes before the impact, when the copilot mentioned haze and asked the pilot in command if he could see. Fifty secon