A LIFELINE ferry is making a return after being out of action since Sunday due to Covid cases amongst two crew members.

The move has come after state-owned ferry operator CalMac said that crew members of 28-year-old MV Caledonian Isles have returned negative Covid test results.

CalMac said what is one of their largest vessels has been deep cleaned and is now in a position to return to the mainland to resume sailings on the Ardrossan to Arran crossing - one of the busiest in the lifeline network.

But it said that due to limited crew on board at the vessel will initially only be able to depart Brodick initially in cargo mode - meaning it will not be taking passengers.

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It will leave Brodick with commercial cargo and when it arrives in Ardrossan will then pick up all passengers.

It is assumed more crew will be getting on board there and a 3.20pm service will become a normal passenger sailing.

Also back in action is one of CalMac's oldest vessels, the 38-year-old MV Isle of Arran which was taken off the Ardrossan to Campbeltown service to operate services normally run by Caledonian Isles on Sunday.

Repairs to MV Isle of Arran’s bow visor seal have been completed successfully and it is due to return to service at 12.30pm from Ardrossan.

On Tuesday, CalMac told customers that 14 services due to be operated by Isle of Arran on Wednesday were cancelled.


Following repairs, the state-owned ferry operator said that it hoped to operate six services between 12.30pm and 7.20pm.

As Caledonian Isle was out of action, CalMac had encouraged as many people to travel on the non-bookable Lochranza on Arran to Claonaig, a hamlet on the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland, as an alternative.

By road, that meant those travelling from Ardrossan going on a 125 mile detour to get to and from Claonaig - a journey that would take around three hours. The Ardrossan to Brodick ferry crossing usually takes just 35 minutes.

CalMac even advised that travellers plan in rest breaks on route to Claonaig.

The Isle of Arran ferry redeployment on Sunday meant that all sailings between Ardrossan and Campbeltown were cancelled.

The ferry operators set up a replacement bus service for foot passengers hit by the cancellations to arrive at Campbeltown after a three-and-a-half hour and a 153 mile journey. At least 46 are understood to have taken the trip.

CalMac is currently footing an £11,760 a day bill to charter an emergency ferry from Isle of Man government-owned Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited to help maintain lifeline passenger and freight services.

MV Arrow was brought in to help relieve pressure on freight services between CalMac's Stornoway to Ullapool crossing but broke down on July 24 after operating for just a week. Marine waste got tangled with a propellor and all sailings scrapped till the end of the month.

The delivery of new lifeline island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which were due online in the first half of 2018, are over four years late, with costs doubling to over £200m. Glen Sannox was due to support the Arran route.