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Hebrides News


For the second time in five weeks the South Uist ferry is being taken out of service after part of her aging hull was discovered to be too thin.


Shortly after returning from her annual overhaul, extensive deterioration has been discovered on the 31-year-old MV Lord of the Isles meaning affected sections of steelwork will have to be replaced before it is further weakened.


The Lochboisdale - Mallaig / Oban service will be suspended as the  MV Lord of the Isles is required to come out of the water for the safety repairs.


The extent of the problem will not be known until the underwater hull of the vessel is fully examined so no timescale for the disruption can be confirmed.


However, she is likely to be out of action for at least a week while new steel plates are installed.


The Lord of the Isles only returned from her annual drydock refit on 8 December - which had been extended after a delay. Not long afterwards, over Christmas week, she was taken out of service again and laid up in Oban for “technical reasons” after the thinning hull problem was discovered.


The vessel is being despatched for drydock in Greenock after a sailing to Oban on Monday morning sailing to Oban.


Cal Mac said the “unscheduled repairs” follow the discovery of a thinning section of steelwork during routine inspections by the ship‘s engineers.


Additional early morning and late evening services are being put in place on the Sound of Barra while the repair work is carried out - potentially for more than a week - to allow a connection with the MV Isle of Lewis sailings between Castlebay and Oban.


Robert Kelso, Cal Mac’s fleet technical manager, said: “The ship’s steelwork is formally inspected to a five-yearly fixed schedule under MCA rules and wasn’t due to be looked at again until the end of this year.


“However, due to the severe weather conditions in which our ships operate, the onboard engineers do routine inspections in-between the formal one, and the latest of these just before Christmas found a small section which needed repair.”


Cal Mac did not want to remove the ship out of service for longer than necessary during the holiday period so it was “agreed with the MCA that the work could be deferred until early in the New Year,” said Mr Kelso.


He added: “We cannot say how long the repairs will take until the work has been formally assessed and scoped but we will do everything we can to get her back into service as soon as possible. In the meantime, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”


Details of the additional sailings via the Sound of Barra route can be found on Cal Mac’s website.


South Uist ferry suspends service for urgent repairs

17 January 2017

MV Lord of the Isles at Lochboisdale pier