CalMac apologies over Islay ferry cancellations as another vessel breaks down

CALMAC has apologised after more island ferry services were cancelled after another of its beleaguered ferry fleet was put out of action due to a fault yesterday (Friday).

Services to Islay were cancelled after problems with 11-year-old MV Finlaggan’s turbo charger were discovered early Friday morning.

CalMac, the taxpayer-owned ferry operator, has traditionally served Islay with two vessels including MV Finlaggan.

It indicated that the 36-year-old MV Hebridean Isles, one of the oldest in the state-owned fleet would be able to pick up some of the slack but at reduced capacity for passengers and cars.

In summer 2011, Finlaggan joined Hebridean Isles as the main Islay vessel.

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At 5pm on Friday it was not yet known whether Finlaggan would be back in operation on Saturday.

The disruption caused some concerns, with some taking to social media raise concerns.

Greg Brown told CalMac: “Meant to be on the cancelled 10am ferry. Had a text last night to call at 6am, and press option 2. Getting a message the office is closed and it hangs up – what’s going on?”

In 2019, distillers on Islay said they were facing major problems in transporting whisky over to the Scottish mainland because of a capacity crisis on the ferry links.

At the end of July, sailings to and from Colonsay and Islay were cancelled after an engine fuel pump problem meant the MV Hebridean Isles was forced out of action leading to cancellations to services which was expected to last into two days.

A technical issue with Finlaggan caused cancellations in early June.

Video: MV Finlaggan’s construction and arrival on Islay

CalMac said at the time it was the result of the vessel striking something in the water and it had to be checked for damage.

Don McKillop, area operations manager for Argyll said: “Due to an ongoing technical issue with MV Finlaggan’s turbo charger, the vessel had to be withdrawn from service today.

“Specialist engineers are currently working to repair the fault and expect her to be back as soon as possible tomorrow, once sea trials have been carried out.

“MV Hebridean Isles took over MV Finlaggan sailings with a limited capacity, prioritising essential commercial traffic. All affected passengers were advised of the changes. We apologise for the disruption that this has caused and thank customers for their patience.”

On Wednesday another lifeline ferry made a return after being out of action being out of action for four days due to Covid cases amongst two crew members.

It came after CalMac said that crew members of 28-year-old MV Caledonian Isles returned negative Covid test results.

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CalMac said what is one of their largest vessels had been deep cleaned and was in a position to return to the mainland to resume sailings on the Ardrossan to Arran crossing – one of the busiest in the lifeline network.

Also back in action midweek was another of CalMac’s oldest vessels, the 38-year-old MV Isle of Arran which was taken off the Ardrossan to Campbeltown service to operate services normally run by Caledonian Isles on Sunday.

Repairs to MV Isle of Arran’s bow visor seal had been completed successfully.

On Tuesday, CalMac told customers that 14 services due to be operated by Isle of Arran on Wednesday were cancelled.

Following repairs, the state-owned ferry operator said that it hoped to operate six services between 12.30pm and 7.20pm.

As Caledonian Isles was out of action, CalMac had encouraged as many people to travel on the non-bookable Lochranza on Arran to Claonaig, a hamlet on the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland, as an alternative.

By road, that meant those travelling from Ardrossan going on a 125 mile detour to get to and from Claonaig – a journey that would take around three hours. The Ardrossan to Brodick ferry crossing usually takes just 35 minutes.

CalMac even advised that travellers plan in rest breaks on route to Claonaig.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992