CalMac needs to prioritize as ferry failure causes uproar

Service to four Inner Hebrides islands is impacted as MS Bhrusda is withdrawn after a leak has knocked 26-year-old MS Loch Alainn out of action for the second time in less than two weeks.

At the end of June, a steering error by the MV Loch Alainn resulted in the island ferry between Barra and Eriskay, which served as an alternative route to the ailing South Uist route, being suspended for three days.

The Scottish Government-owned ferry operator has had to charter another vessel to offer a passenger-only shuttle service after a new technical issue was discovered around 5.30pm on Sunday which has required further investigation.

MV Loch Alainn has since been withdrawn from service and users have been warned that no vehicles were being carried on Monday.

The problem lies in the ship’s “empty space,” a closed section in the hold, and CalMac said a repair plan is being drawn up.

It has now emerged that the MV Loch Alainn, which can accommodate 150 passengers and 20 cars, must now go into dry dock at Greenock for repairs.

READ MORE: Ferry boss says ministers need to consider privatizing CalMac services

That means MV Loch Bhrusda was used for cover, but CalMac has warned the capacity on the ship is “significantly less”.

This means the MV Loch Bhrusda will have limited service to the islands of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna on Saturday.


The 40-passenger catamaran MV Larven, normally operated by Western Isles Cruises, has been deployed to offer a passenger-only service to and from the islands. The MV Spanish John, normally owned by Mallaig-based Milligan Transport, is said to operate a vehicle and cargo service, but CalMac says it can’t accommodate all the vehicles because it has to be loaded from the beach.

Users of the Barra to Eriskay route have been warned by CalMac that “it will be necessary to prioritize traffic, with the primary consideration being the supply of lifelines”.

READ MORE: ‘Whatever may, Holyrood protects CalMac’: Should vital ferry services be privatised?

Users have been told: “Because of this, some bookings may have to be cancelled. Our port teams are currently working on this on a day-to-day basis and will be in touch with customers whose bookings have been affected.”

The ferry operator is trying to find additional staff to enable the Loch Bhrusda to continue sailing while she is on duty on the route.

A ferry operator official told users: “I am very sorry that we are facing further disruption in the Western Isles, particularly ahead of the busy fortnight of festivals and games ahead.”

Some users have raised concerns about the latest developments.

A South Uist resident said: “More cancellations! How much more can Uist companies handle? When you think it can’t get any worse, it always does!”

The Eriskay to Barra service last month offered an alternative route to Lochboisdale on South Uist – where other breakdowns and delayed annual maintenance checks have kept it idle for most of the last month and it has been the focus of major island protests.

The 38-year-old MV Hebridean Isles, who has been plagued by problems since Boxing Day, was and remains out of action.

It was removed from CalMac’s line of fire on February 16, ending the cargo traffic that supplied Arran with vital supplies from Troon.

The ship was forced to go back into dry dock because the vessel was experiencing pitch control issues, Scottish Government-owned ferry operator CalMac said.

CalMac has suspended sailings to South Uist for most of June after the MV Lord of the Isles, which operates between Mallaig and Lochboisdale, was moved to Islay as the ferry operator merges its vessels on the Clyde and Hebrides lines wanted.

The ferry operator then had to charter the passenger-only vessel ‘Karleen Belle’ from Uist Sea Tours to operate services between Barra and Eriskay. MV Alainn is large enough to accommodate 150 passengers and 20 cars.

The ferry operator returned the MV Lord of the Isles early to offer a one-off car assistance trip to allow people affected by the MV Loch Alainn breakdown to leave Barra. The service was supposed to carry people between Castlebay and Lochboisdale, which has been out of service since the beginning of the month.

The problems arose after a public meeting on South Uist, attended by 250 people and CalMac boss Robbie Drummond, saw a vote of no confidence in the ferry operator.

The move to visit South Uist came after an estimated 500 residents, 200 cars, 40 vans and 20 lorries converged on Lochboisdale – the port that connects South Uist to the mainland – to protest the decision, almost all in June discontinue services.

Grace Reader

TheHitc is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button