Island ferry services suffered further disruption yesterday as the MV Hebrides was detained in port.
The vessel was berthed at Lochmaddy in North Uist with engine problems, unable to fulfil a scheduled sailing to Ullapool.
The Hebrides was only destined for Ullapool because the re-opening of Uig pier in Skye had been delayed for a second time, at very short notice, due to harbour works being incomplete.
The link to Tarbert in Harris has also been suspended due to the continuing closure of the Skye port, with traffic diverted via Stornoway.
Yesterday’s episode was the latest in a series of recent disruptions as the ageing CalMac fleet struggles to cope in the absence of back-up vessels.
🔶AMBER #Uig ( #Ullapool )#Lochmaddy 26Mar Repairs to the vessels port main engine remain ongoing and as a result, the following sailings are delayed:
Depart Lochmaddy 06:30
Depart Ullapool 12:00
There will be a review at 08:00 regarding this service.
— CalMac Service Info (@CalMac_Updates) March 25, 2023
It emerged last week that the Scottish Government has chartered the relief vessel MV Alfred from Pentland Ferries for nine months, at a cost of £1 million per month, to improve resilience in CalMac’s struggling fleet.
Island hauliers throughout the CalMac network have formed themselves into an action group which is threatening to take legal action against the Scottish Government unless a reliable service is restored.
The 22-year-old Hebrides should have gone for annual maintenance last month but there was no back-up vessel available.
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CalMac said it expected the service to Ullapool will recommence today, adding: “We apologise for this disruption to our passengers, and we expect that the service to Ullapool will resume in the morning.”
Meanwhile, people planning to use the Corran Ferry this Easter have been warned to expect disruption to their travel plans.
The Lochaber route’s main vessel, the 28-car capacity MV Corran, is out of action due to ongoing repairs.
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