Islanders are facing ferry disruption as several sailings have been cancelled due to engine problems on CalMac’s largest vessel.
The ferry operator said that services were disrupted because of an issue with MV Loch Seaforth’s engine control system.
Sailings leaving from Stornoway at 7am and 2pm have been cancelled as well the 10.30am service departing from Ullapool.
A review will be held at around 2pm today to evaluate if the 5.30pm sailing from Ullapool will still go ahead, the national ferry operator said.
In the meantime, passengers have been encouraged to use the Uig to Tarbert route.
CalMac currently have three other major units out of service.
MV Caledonian Isles, MV Hebridean Isles and MV Clansman have not been in service since the summer timetable began on 1 April.
Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the issues were creating a “disconnect” between the Western Isles and the rest of Scotland.
There’s growing frustration here whether it be the ferries fiasco and the impact that then has on human to human contact, the impact that has on supplies and goods coming into the island, or indeed the impact that has on businesses on the island in terms of exporting their produce to the mainland or even further afield,” he said.
“That disconnect has gone on for far too long. Apologies won’t cut it any more. Warm words won’t cut it. It needs a meaningful plan. It needs a proper economic growth plan. It needs a fully integrated transport plan and it needs a local champion here in the Western Isles community, but it also needs two governments that understand these concerns and actually do something about it.”
The Scottish Government’s minister for transport Kevin Stewart said: “Unfortunately there have been ongoing technical issues with vessels resulting in delays to the annual overhaul programme and cancellation of sailings. The expertise and responsibility for operational decisions regarding the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services lies with CalMac as the operator, but we recognise this issue is not just about transport performance in itself – it’s about delivering the confidence needed to sustain island populations.
“Regrettably communities have been greatly impacted and we fully recognise the need to improve reliability and confidence in services. Ferry operators prioritise food supplies during disruption, and are part of the local resilience partnership, they remain in contact with local communities and hauliers. CalMac are also considering additional sailings on other routes to help manage capacity in light of the ongoing issue with the MV Loch Seaforth.
“The Scottish Government has invested more than £2bn in our ferry services since 2007 and we have outlined plans to invest around £700m in a five year plan to improve ferry infrastructure.
“Since May 2021, we have bought and deployed an additional vessel in MV Loch Frisa in June, chartered the MV Arrow and MV Alfred, commissioned two new vessels for Islay, progressed investment in essential harbour infrastructure, and now we are delivering a further two new Islay-class vessels.
“We share the desires of island communities for sustainable and effective ferry services and look forward to continuing our constructive engagement with them on future services and vessel replacements.”
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