LIFELINE ferry services were suspended yesterday after one of the oldest of CalMac’s ageing ferry fleet broke down for the second time in three weeks due to an engine problem.
It is understood the issues hit 30-year-old MV Loch Dunvengan’s main engine in the morning and was taken out for repairs to the rear main engine.
It led to disruption on the services on the five-minute route from Colintraive to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute.
The vessel which is due to be replaced by new ferries over the next ten years came back into service in the afternoon after a sea trial to test the repair.
It comes as users of the service have been warned that Loch Dunvegan, which can carry 200 passengers and 36 cars, will be off line from October 7 until November 5 for its annual overhaul.
It is due to be replaced by the smaller MV Loch Alainn which can carry 150 passengers and 20 cars.
MV Loch Alainn. Source: YouTube (Cammy 4747)
CalMac has warned that tri axle coaches and some commercial vehicles cannot be accommodated and space on deck will be reduced on the 24-year-old vessel.
Services were halted from September 17 on the route after previous problems with the rear main engine.
Engineers were then brough in to assist further with investigations and repairs.
A relief ferry the 35-year-old MV Loch Linnhe, was brought in in the afternoon to try give support on the day. It can only carry a third of the number of cars that the stricken vessel can.
Within the couple of hours there were further sailing cancellations due to “crew rest requirements”.
Islanders from Arran to Islay have lodged complaints to ministers about disruption and cancellations to services as the ageing Scottish ferry fleet falters.
While industry experts agree the working life of the ferries is 25 years, 14 of the 33-strong ferry fleet run is older than that, with eight, including Hebridean Isles, past their 30th birthday.
Ferguson Marine which runs the last remaining shipyard on the lower Clyde was nationalised after it financially collapsed in August 2019, amid soaring costs and delays to the construction of two lifeline island ferries.
The delivery of new island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which were due online in the first half of 2018, was found to be between four and five years late, with costs doubling to over £200m.