THE loss of a Scots ferry for over a week has led to new disruption on lifeline services.

The 15-year-old MV Loch Shira, which can carry 36 cars and 250 passengers. has been out of action for over a week after a collision with the sea bed.

CalMac have said this has led to all services between Tarbert on Kintyre and Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula being cancelled both yesterday (Sunday) and today (Monday).

That is because MV Isle of Cumbrae is being redeployed when necessary on the two-vessel route from Largs to the popular island of Cumbrae route, which Loch Shira normally runs.

It is not yet known what effect this will have sailings on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the second crossing vessel, one of the oldest in the fleet, the 35-year-old MV Loch Riddon is continuing to give support on the Largs to Cumbrae route in Loch Shira's continued absence.


Loch Riddon, however, is smaller than Loch Shira, as it can carry 200 passengers and 12 cars.

It had been hoped Loch Shira might be back in action by Friday but it has emerged specialist support is needed and were not available over the weekend.

An inspection is expected today (Monday) over whether Loch Shira can return.

CalMac has warned that the vessels being deployed have "significantly lower capacity".

The state-owned ferry operator told customers: "Please be advised that delays are highly likely."

The disruption has led to continuing complaints about queues and hold-ups on crossings between Largs and Cumbrae.

It is understood island ferry users are seeking a meeting with the transport minister Graeme Dey about their concerns over the service.

One user said: "This is a serious situation but it is difficult to know what the short term solution is as we have an ageing fleet."

Some 16 of state-owned ferry operator CalMac's 31 working ferries deployed across Scotland are now over 25 years old.

In May, ferry users of the Cumbrae crossing were told they may have to put up with "more breakdowns than usual" due to the age of MV Loch Shira.

The ferry broke down in May when many businesses were coming out lockdown on the island for the first time.

The ferry was back in service later after the fault was repaired but caused disruption to schooling and commuters.

Loch Riddon which should have been replaced by 2019 itself broke down with engine gearbox issues in July leaving CalMac scrambling to find a replacement ferry.

It comes after a summer of breakdowns and disruption in the CalMac network.

Meanwhile, would-be ferry replacements MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 are still languishing in now state-owned Ferguson Marine's shipyard, with costs of their construction more than doubling from the original £97m contract.