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Ferry operator CalMac 'must make further changes' to keep Highland services afloat


By Hector MacKenzie

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CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond: 'Deeply worry'.
CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond: 'Deeply worry'.

STRUGGLING ferry operator CalMac is again reshuffling its pack in a bid to reinstate sailings on the 'Skye Triangle' routes.

Earlier in the week it gave an update on repairs required to MV Hebrides which operates between Lochmaddy in North Uist, Tarbert in Harris and Uig on Skye. It has been removed for further essential repairs to her CO2 firefighting system and is expected to be out of action until Sunday.

READ: Impact on Ullapool-Lewis route as CalMac woes continue

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: “We have made every effort to ensure customers booked on MV Hebrides have been able to travel this week where possible. However, we have reached the point today where we must make further changes.

“In order to reinstate sailings on the Skye Triangle routes from tomorrow (Friday), it has become necessary to redeploy some vessels from other routes to help support services in the Western Isles area. MV Lord of the Isles, which was providing additional sailings to the Western Isles, is now out of crew hours, so we now need an alternative solution.

“Therefore, MV Isle of Mull will move from Mull to Lochmaddy this afternoon while her sailings between Oban and Craignure will be taken over by MV Coruisk. To try and minimise the impact of these changes, we will maximise the number of sailings that MV Loch Frisa can undertake on this route as far as possible. We will also provide a shuttle service on the alternative route to Mull via Lochaline-Fishnish which will boost the number of sailings possible on this route within the limits of crew hours.

“This is a temporary measure until repairs have been completed to MV Hebrides. Work is expected to be completed on Saturday evening and we anticipate she will be back in service on Sunday. While we aim to move all booked traffic, urgent deliveries and medical appointments will be prioritised.

“Moving vessels around is not ideal but without any spare tonnage to use during disruption, it is often the only available option we have to continue to operate lifeline services. I can assure customers that we have looked at all possible alternative options before coming to this decision.

“I am deeply sorry about the effect that the loss of MV Hebrides has had on our passengers and communities.”


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