A REPLACEMENT bus has had to be brought in to take passengers on a 50-mile detour after a CalMac ferry remained out of action for a second day yesterday after a starter motor broke down.

Alternative transport was brought in after it was discovered that MV Chieftain needs more detailed repairs meaning suspension of services on the Gourock to Kilcreggan crossing - used by staff travelling to the Royal Navy’s Coulport and Faslane bases.

As another day of Calmac ferry failures emerged, East Lothian MP, Kenny MacAskill, a former SNP justice secretary called for a public inquiry into what he called the "fiasco on Scotland's ferries" and placed the blame on the Scottish Government.

It comes as there was further disruption to services to Islay yesterday as two ferries were hit by issues and were out of action.

The 11-year-old MV Finlaggan was laid up yesterday morning after a suspected rope had attached itself to a propellor.

Divers were due to arrive to investigate the incident at 6pm yesterday.

There were further cancellations yesterday morning before the 36-year-old MV Hebridean Isles which was forced out of action on Wednesday was brought back into service after problems with an engine fuel pump were fixed.


MV Hebridean Isles. Source: YouTube (Scott Braid)

There were more cancellations of some services to the Isle of Skye following issues for the second time in a week with 32-year-old MV Lord of the Isles, one of the biggest and oldest vessels in the CalMac fleet.

Sailings were cancelled from yesterday morning and divers were due to carry out some welding work last night.

Last week Western Isles ferry services had to be cancelled after the vessel, which carries 505 passengers and 56 cars was headed to Kennacraig on the Argyll mainland where an engineer had to fix a faulty propeller.

Problems with the Lord of the Isles surfaced on the evening of July 20 and resulted in cancellations on the Mallaig, Invernesshire to Lochboisdale on South Uist and Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye.

It has been confirmed that MV Chieftain needed a replacement starter motor meaning the suspension of services between Gourock and Kilcreggan was extended to a second day.

State-owned ferry operator CalMac confirmed that a bus had been brought in by way of replacement to take travellers by road on an hour-and-fifteen minute detour around the Firth of Clyde via the Erskine Bridge and the A82.

After a repair services were due to resume with a 4.18pm sailing from Gourock.

Meanwhile MV Arrow, the ferry commissioned by ministers to support Scotland's beleaguered ferry network remained in Belfast being repaired.


The Herald revealed there were no online car booking slots available until mid-August on the mainland to Stornoway on Lewis route after emergency ferry broke down just a week after being chartered by ministers.

Passenger services from the mainland to Stornoway on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides were cancelled after the MV Arrow got fishing equipment tangled in its propeller.

CalMac has had to bring in MV Loch Seaforth to deal with the new wave of freight issues which has resulted from Arrow’s loss - and as a result two additional sailings per week ave been cancelled from Monday and until further notice.

MV Arrow was to operate as a freight service by Seatruck on behalf of CalMac, providing additional capacity and resilience and was focussed on getting freight to and from Stornoway, the main town of the Western Isles.

Ferry capacity remains capped at 35%, though it is hoped it will be back at 100% once Covid restrictions ease on August 9.

There is concern over the state of Scotland's vessel procurement as 16 of the state-owned ferry operator's 31 working ferries deployed across Scotland is now over 25 years old.

Two lifeline vessels being built at nationalised Ferguson Marine, owner of the last civilian Clyde shipyard, are now up to five years behind schedule and are now costing double the original £97m contract.

Mr MacAskill who defected to the Alba Party earlier this year said the consequences of the ferry fiasco "are felt not just on the island communities served by them, but in the industrial communities that should be benefitting from constructing them".

He added: "Instead a tourist season’s ruined in the former and the threat of closure looms over the latter.

"It’s not just a shambles, it’s a disgrace. Scotland needs new ships and they should be getting built here, not having orders placed south of the border or even abroad," he said.