Scottish island to have no mainland ferry service for weeks

CalMac has announced updates to routes across it's network amid a shortage of ferries.

South Uist to have no ferry service to mainland for weeks amid Calmac shortage Caledonian MacBrayne

No ferries will run between the mainland and South Uist for several weeks as the operator faces continued challenges over a shortage of vessels.

National ferry operator CalMac has announced updates to routes across its network and apologised to customers for the disruption.

It said ongoing delays in dry dock and technical issues affecting several major vessels means it has had to impose changes to ensure services continue to be delivered.

CalMac said services between Mallaig/Oban and Lochboisdale on South Uist will be cancelled between April 5 and May 13.

This is due to the need to redeploy vessels elsewhere on the network while it continues to manage the delays experienced in vessel overhaul and additional technical issues within the fleet.

Additional daily services to the Sound of Barra will be available to provide a connection for Uist traffic.

Robbie Drummond, chief executive of CalMac, said: “Our service continues to be affected by delays to the annual overhaul schedule and its subsequent impact on vessel deployment.

“With no spare vessels, it is a challenging period for our customers, and we apologise for the disruption this is causing, particularly at the start of the tourist season.

“We are focused on returning those vessels which have required extended repairs back to service as soon as possible and returning to a normal service as quickly as we can.

“We will continue to work with community representatives and will keep customers informed of any developments.”

Drummond warned earlier this month that the next one or two years “will be challenging” due to the age of the country’s fleet.

There are four ferries being built in Turkey, along with the Glen Sannox and the as-yet-unnamed hull 802, which have faced major delays and cost overruns during construction at the Scottish Government-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow.

Two ferries being build in Scotland face significant delays.STV News

People travelling to and from Arran are among those who have faced disruption due to the ageing ferry fleet and the need for maintenance and repairs.

The ferry operator said MV Caledonian Isles, which normally operates the route from Ardrossan to Brodick, is expected to return to service from April 13 operating a single vessel timetable.

The service is scheduled to return to a two-vessel, summer timetable from May 5, with MV Caledonian Isles and MV Isle of Arran.

Elsewhere, MV Finlaggan, which is currently operating a single vessel timetable between Islay and Kennacraig, will depart on April 9 to undergo her delayed overhaul period.

A two-vessel service will operate between Islay-Kennacraig from April 9 to April 13, using MV Isle of Mull and MV Hebridean Isles.

MV Isle of Arran and MV Hebridean Isles will then be scheduled to run a two-vessel service from April 14 to May 3.

From May 4, MV Finlaggan will re-enter service, and together with the MV Hebridean Isles will operate the full summer timetable from that date.

MV Hebridean Isles has re-entered dry dock in Birkenhead after last week’s sea trials which identified a rudder fault, and will be deployed to the Islay service once trials are successfully completed.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We welcome CalMac’s continuing engagement with the communities, businesses and passengers they serve.

“The Scottish Government has invested more than £2 billion in our ferry services since 2007 and we have outlined plans to invest around £700 million 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.”

Other routes affected by updates include Coll and Tiree services, Uig-Lochmaddy/Uig-Tarbert services, Colonsay routes and the Small Isles services.

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