FERRY services to the historic Scots island of Iona have been disrupted after a breakdown of another of the nation’s ageing fleet.
Problems with 30-year-old MV Loch Buie’s forward main engine meant the cancellation of at least one island request sailing this morning (Thursday).
CalMac said engineers are working to resolve the issue overnight.
The state-owned ferry operator warned after the issues were spotted yesterday morning that services may be liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.
CalMac said late yesterday afternoon it did not yet know what impact there was on timetabled sailings on the route from Mull to Iona – loved by tourists and pilgrims for its abbey.
The development came the day after a ferry chartered to support Scotland’s beleaguered ferry network which broke down less than a week after it went into service, was back serving the islands aga.
MV Arrow, returned to carrying freight on CalMac’s Stornoway to Ullapool crossing on Tuesday after being out of action for 10 days.
CalMac had hoped the short-term charter would free up space on its MV Loch Seaforth ferry, particular during the busiest weeks of the summer tourist season.
But it hit problems after marine waste got tangled with a propellor on Saturday and all sailings have now been scrapped till the end of the month.
CalMac had to bring in MV Loch Seaforth to deal with the freight issues which resulted from Arrow’s loss – and as a result two additional sailings per week were cancelled until further notice.
There have been a series of problems to ferries on islands routes earlier this year.
The Loch Seaforth, which runs the Stornoway to Ullapool route had to undergo major repairs after suffering an engine failure in April.
The breakdown caused wider disruption to CalMac’s west coast network as other ferries had to cover.
Last week a replacement bus had to be brought in to take passengers on a 50-mile detour after a CalMac ferry remained out of action for a second day yesterday after a starter motor broke down.
Alternative transport was brought in after it was discovered that MV Chieftain needs more detailed repairs meaning suspension of services on the Gourock to Kilcreggan crossing – used by staff travelling to the Royal Navy’s Coulport and Faslane bases.
East Lothian MP, Kenny MacAskill, a former SNP justice secretary has called for a public inquiry into what he called the “fiasco on Scotland’s ferries” and placed the blame on the Scottish Government.
It comes amidst continuing concern over the state of Scotland’s vessel procurement as 16 of the state-owned ferry operator’s 31 working ferries deployed across Scotland is now over 25 years old.
Two lifeline vessels being built at now nationalised Ferguson Marine, owner of the last civilian Clyde shipyard, are now up to five years behind schedule and are now costing double the original £97m contract.