Western Isles Labour has called for a an independent inquiry into Caledonian MacBrayne’s ferry “debacle.”

The call comes a day after a top CalMac boss publicly apologised to passengers for the disruption that has again hit west coast routes.

Managing director Robbie Drummond said it had come at a time when the fleet was depleted by ferries out of service on annual refits.

Staff are working round the clock to get Scotland’s west coast ferry service back to normal, he stressed.

Spare parts have been flown from Denmark to the MV Loch Seaforth – CalMac’s biggest and newest ship – which is out of action after suffering a series of technical faults.

The £42 million vessel is laid up for the third day in Stornoway for repairs.

“The latest ferries debacle makes the case for a full independent inquiry undeniable,” said Western Isles Labour Westminster candidate Alison MacCorquodale today.

“This cannot go on indefinitely without regard to the damage being suffered throughout the Western Isles economy. I’m particularly keen to understand the true impact on Barra residents and businesses given Castlebay appears to drop off the priority list at a moment’s notice.

“If chartering is necessary to make the CalMac fleet more resilient then that option should be pursued. As we have seen again this week, breakdowns happen in an ageing fleet and the back-up arrangements are woefully inadequate.”

Ms MacCorquodale said that an inquiry should look at the role of CMAL –the infrastructure and procurement arm of CalMac.

She added: “(CMAL) – the SNP quango which lurches from one botched job to the next without a single island resident on its board or management, while seeming to be beyond scrutiny.”

CalMac engineers have been flown to Lewis assist in try to get the MV Loch Seaforth sailing again on the Stornoway to Ullapool route.

Technicians from mainland Europe are also thought to be ready to head to the ship, which broke down after sailing back from Birkenhead on Sunday from its annual refit.

A combination of three faults has hit the vessel. They are connected with the electronics to the ship’s pitch control and propulsion system, a generator issue and problems with its port engine.

As a contingency measure, CalMac is preparing for the MV Loch Seaforth to be out of service up to the weekend.

Mr Drummond said: “We know the impact not having these services is having on our island communities and all our focus is on fixing these problems. “We are working extremely hard to keep traffic moving within the available fleet resources we have but realise that there will be some inconvenience for passengers which we apologise for.”