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Ferry sick: Network-wide disruption on ferry services in Hebridean Isles

Publication: Ileach

Calmac Hebridean Isles Ferry
Calmac Hebridean Isles Ferry | Licensed for use on Scottish Beacon | All rights reserved

Recently, we reported that were the MV Hebridean Isles to complete repairs while the MV Finlaggan received its annual re-fit, it would be returned to the Islay route, allowing the MV Lord of the Isles to reposition to the Lochboisdale-Mallaig service. 

However, despite several attempts over the past months to resuscitate the Hebridean Isles, CalMac recently announced an additional delay to the vessel’s return due to continued work to repair the controllable pitch propeller issue.
As a result, the vessel remains in a dry dock in Troon while engineers work to resolve the issue.

Thus, the MV Lord of the Isles remained on the Islay route alongside the MV Isle of Arran until the Finlaggan returned on Wednesday evening, 28 June. This further delay has meant that the non-lifeline Campbeltown – Ardrossan ferry service remains cancelled until 27 July at the earliest.MV Lord of the Isles has now returned to the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route.

Robbie Drummond, Chief Executive of CalMac, said:

“Ongoing work to MV Hebridean Isles has so far not fixed the issue and I am sorry that this has not yet been resolved. This delay is causing network-wide disruption and means that we must make difficult decisions regarding services once again.
As we do not have a return to service date, we have had to plan service delivery around its continued absence using the vessels we have available.
We will reassess these deployment plans as soon as we have a date of return for MV Hebridean Isles.”

On Monday evening, 3 July, the MV Finlaggan suffered engine problems leading to the immediate cancellation of two sailings and left staff trying to accommodate vehicles on the much smaller MV Arran.