Moves to position an 'emergency' vessel that is costing taxpayers £1m a month to charter onto a new route have been put back after it spent a third day out of action.

Gearbox issues discovered with MV Alfred on Sunday led to cancellations to and from Arran running into Monday.

The ferry has been providing services with MV Caledonian Isles to Brodick while 38-year-old MV Hebridean Isles, which has served on the route, has been sidelined for over nine months.

CalMac said that the issue with MV Alfred was due to a "technical issue" with the port side gearbox which "requires further investigation”.

It meant sailings due to be operated by MV Alfred were cancelled on Monday, which was due to be the last day of service on the Ardrossan-Brodick route for the ferry brought in by the Scottish Government at a cost of £9m for nine months.

READ MORE: Ferguson Marine under fire over safety failures over fiasco ferries

It was then due to go on sea trials on the route to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to see if she can be used to cover when MV Loch Seaforth goes for its annual overhaul.

The Herald: MV Alfred at Ardrossan

But CalMac has said that they are still awaiting a timeline regarding the repairs to the vesssel.

 Pentland Ferries staff, which has been operating services on behalf of Scottish Government-owned CalMac, bought MV Alfred for £14m in 2019 to operate between Caithness and Orkney.

It was built in Vietnam and can accommodate 430 passengers and 98 cars, or 54 cars and 12 articulated vehicles/coaches.

At the time it was described as the "most environmentally-friendly ferry in Scotland".

Transport Scotland said the £9m was to cover berthing dues, fuel, the commercial charter rate and other undisclosed costs.

Meanwhile, MV Catriona was back in service on Tuesday morning after sailings were suspended later Monday afternoon due to an ongoing issue with the vessel's hydraulic ramp.

One ferry user group official said that it was hoped the issues with MV Alfred would be resolved quickly so that it can continue to provide badly needed resilience to the ageing CalMac fleet.

"There are continuing issues with providing a consistent service to the islands, so it is imperative that alternatives such as MV Alfred provide reliability," he said. "Continuing issues are a headache at this time. With vessels already beginning to be taken out of action for their annual maintenance overhaul, backup is needed."

The move to bring it in MV Alfred earlier this year came amidst widespread disruption to services because of faults with vessels discovered during the annual overhaul process.

The vessel was a the centre of a crash investigation after a grounding in July, last year.

The ferry was due to be in service until the first of two long-delayed and over-budget ferries, Glen Sannox was in service, which it was hoped would be for the summer 2014 timetable.

But further construction delays has meant that it is widely speculated that it is not expected to be ready in time.

The Herald: Flags are waved at a launch ceremony for the liquefied natural gas passenger ferry MV Glen Sannox, the UK's first LNG ferry, at Ferguson Marine Engineering in Port Glasgow..

Scottish Government-owned Ferguson Marine, which is getting the ferry ready for passengers, has said that the vessel’s sea trials have had to be postponed to January to March because of internal modifications to escape routes required by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

CalMac had expected Glen Sannox to be handed over in December 2023, and Glen Rosa in December 2024. They say that once handed over there will be a two month period where they will carry out crew familiarisation and network trials.

MV Alfred was at the centre of controversy when on July 5, last year, when it partially ran aground on the Isle of Swona, the more northerly of two islands in the Pentland Firth between the Orkney Islands and Caithness on the Scottish mainland.

RNLI lifeboats were called to evacuate the Vietnam-built – with one person being rushed to hospital with a fractured shoulder.

Dozens more were feared to have suffered mental trauma and physical injuries including fractures, sprains and soft tissue damage.

It later emerged that six passengers injured are seeking compensation.