North Uist and Harris travellers face serious ferry disruption over the busy Easter
holidays as Cal Mac operates a smaller, slower vessel on the routes.
Traffic may be diverted via Stornoway or Lochboisdale as a result.
Regular ferry MV Hebrides has been despatched to cover the Coll and Tiree service.
In her place is the MV Hebridean Isles which takes up the Skye triangle run today.
But she cannot carry as many vehicles as the Hebrides and also takes longer to complete
Cal Mac warns passengers may involve being rebooked onto alternative sailings or
re-routed to other ports.
The reshuffle of ferries is due to two serious recent incidents where ships - including
the Heb Isles - were damaged.
For legal reasons she cannot operate on the Tiree service as an investigation into
a berthing incident continues amid an insurance claim.
Her stern mooring fairleads were ripped off and railings damaged as she made a failed
attempt to dock in Tiree in a heavy swell last month.
The vessel returned to Oban without discharging traffic and later completed repairs
at a ship yard on the Clyde.
Meanwhile, the MV Clansman requires a propeller and propulsion shaft replaced after
damaging both while entering drydock.
New propeller blades manufactured in Denmark have yet to be shipped to Scotland.
The Clansman will remain in Greenock until repairs are carried out, a delay likely
to take weeks.
Cal Mac apologised for the severe disruption, saying the reshuffle is the only option.
Regional operations manager, Robert Morrison, said: “We understand that this will
cause disruption to the communities on North Uist and Harris which we apologise for.”
He added: “We will provide every assistance to disrupted customers travelling Uig-Tarbert
and Uig-Lochmaddy, which may involve alternative sailings or re-routing to other
served ports to make connections.”
Mr Morrison explained: “With only a limited number of major vessels in the fleet,
when one is unexpectedly out of service we need to use the resources that we have
to maintain reliable operations to every community that depends on us.
“It is however we believe the best solution within the resources we currently have
to deliver reliable services.”
Travel chaos for ferry passengers over busy Easter holidays
29 March 2018
Smaller ferry for busy island routes at peak Easter travel period