FERRY users have been warned to travel only when necessary as one of CalMac's oldest vessels remained out of action for a tenth day with no timetable for return.

A ferry has been redeployed to help support cancelled services to and from Islay and Colonsay as 36-year-old MV Hebridean Isles remains out of action.

Twenty-three-year-old MV Clansman will help with sailings affected on the Oban to Colonsay route as the issues with Hebridean Isles' hull keep it out of service.

After repairs and sea trials last Wednesday after initial attempts at a repair, it was discovered that the issue requires further investigations.

A CalMac spokesman said: "She is in dry dock and work is progressing well."

Customers travelling to to Coll and Tiree today (Wednesday) have been toldof disruptions to their service because of the redeployment of Clansman, the usual vessel which runs the route.

Services to Islay and Colonsay have been reduced initially to just one vessel since repairs began to be sought early last week just nine days after Hebridean Isles had been laid up due to a separate technical issue with its port main engine.


MV Clansman

Travellers have also been informed of cancellations to services this Friday morning.

Customers seeking to use the service this Saturday have already been told that due to the vessel being withdrawn from service, sailings are on yellow alert and may be liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice. The state-run ferry operator said that remaining sailings are on yellow alert and are liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.

The state-owned ferry operator confirmed last week that it had to redeploy MV Isle of Mull from the Oban to Craignure route, one of Scotland's busiest routes, on Monday of last week to Islay - leading to further cancellations.

CalMac have warned of further disruption on services between Kennacraig in Argyll and Bute and Port Askaig and Port Ellen on Islay.


The ferry operator warned: "During this period of disruption and the associated reduced capacity it has created, in order to maintain lifeline and essential services there may be a need for some bookings to be cancelled or amended at short notice.

"We also ask that customers only travel if necessary. If you do not already have a vehicle booking please do not attempt to travel.

"We recognise the reduction of any service can be very challenging for our customers and the communities we serve and apologise for the disruption this will cause."

Some performers and visitors due to take part in the Ceòl Cholasa music festival on Colonsay last week raised their concerns over being able to reach the traditional folk event which was in its 13th year.

It is the latest in a summer of issues with breakdowns and Covid issues involving Scotland's ageing ferry fleet.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said attempts were being made to ease the ferry crisis by purchasing another ferry.

The breakdown in April of Scotland's biggest publicly-run ferry MV Loch Seaforth, which operates on the Stornoway to Ullapool route, caused disruption across the islands network for seven weeks.

Islanders from Arran to Islay have lodged complaints to ministers about disruption and cancellations to services as the ageing Scottish ferry fleet falters.

While industry experts agree the working life of the ferries is 25 years, 14 of the 33-strong ferry fleet run is older than that, with eight, including Hebridean Isles, past their 30th birthday.

The delivery of new island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, still languishing in Ferguson Marine shipyard, which were due online in the first half of 2018, was found to be over four years late with costs doubling to over £200m.