I SHARE the frustration of Arran residents and your correspondents who are seeing disruptions to their service because of technical problems with the MV Caledonian Isles ("Islanders hit out as ‘safety issue’ brings busiest ferry service to standstill", The Herald, March 11, and Letters, March 11).

The vessel is now 27 years old and sourcing parts to repair problems that arise is a huge challenge for us. It is well documented that we were expected to have a new vessel on this route two years ago. While we were working on an original lead-time of six weeks from Europe for a replacement mooring winch for the Caledonian Isles, we now believe this will be much shorter and we can bring the vessel back into full service earlier.

However, the suggestion that there are suitable vessels somewhere in the world ready to be leased or bought and take over the Arran run is unfortunately not true. There are no second-hand ferries available which meet the unusually shallow draft requirements on the West Coast, interface into our port infrastructure and which can operate in our challenging waters. We have continually searched the market along with Cmal in the last six years and brokers are fully alert to our needs. While a number of vessels have been put forward, they have either not met the demanding requirements of UK class or the work required to get them to a class level would be uneconomic or unachievable.

In the meantime, I can only apologise to the Arran community for the disruptions that are taking place, pledge that we are working with all partners to ensure the ferry is fully operational as soon as possible and assure you that we engage with communities on a daily basis around the disruption that occurs.

Robbie Drummond,

Managing Director, CalMac Ferries Ltd, Gourock.

THAT Scottish politicians and many of your correspondents' letters focus on nationalism in politics is understandable, but what are our elected politicians really in office for?

National defence against foreign invasions of all sorts, must claim top priority of course, but the maintenance of the law and vigorous encouragement of prosperity are close in importance.

Reports of so-far-unsolved problems upon which local prosperity depends, respectively in the Aviemore area and the Isle of Arran, are still, after long delays, very worrying to the locals, visitors and harmful to Scotland's tourism.

Thus, the damaged Cairngorm Mountain Railway and the failing connections by ferries with Arran ought to demand almost the very highest priority in our politicians' attention.

Looking after the infrastructure is likewise vital, from roads, including potholes, to buildings of all kinds needing maintenance and restoration.

On the European continent especially, in say, the German-speaking countries, any such knotty problems arising which hurt both tourism and the national wellbeing are, in my observation, given very high priority. Logically, their politicos support and participate in these constructive efforts, with benefits to the locals and their visitors and also to national morale.

Do our own politicos see these priorities that way, not forgetting that successful resolution of such difficulties are, very justifiably, potential vote-winners?

(Dr) Charles Wardrop, Perth.

Read more: Islanders' anger as safety issue brings Scotland's busiest ferry to a halt

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