CALMAC has delayed the annual overhaul of a ferry as concerns loom over food and fuel shortages after a lifeline island ferry service was hit with a host of cancellations.

Five food lorries, stranded for up to two days managed to leave Arran yesterday as other visitors spoke of being unable to leave after services on the island came to a standstill over the weekend.

Services to Arran had been among those hit as ten routes suffered restrictions sparking a "connectivity crisis" after a surge in the number of CalMac self-isolating because of Covid.

But on Arran users spoke of "utter chaos" before the curbs kicked in on Monday as people were left unable to get on or off due to a host of ferry cancellations since the previous day on what is one of Scotland's busiest routes.

It came after CalMac withdrew MV Caledonian Isles from service after a crew member tested positive for Covid on Sunday morning which required the vessel to be cleaned before carrying customers. The ferry operator said there were also "weather disruptions".

While what is one of CalMac's largest vessels, which can carry 1000 passengers and 110 cars was out of action, it was replaced by the smaller MV Hebridean Isles, another of the 'old girls' of the CalMac fleet, which is only capable of carrying around half of that.

Now the state-controlled ferry operator has delayed the start of MV Caledonian Isles' overhaul to help the Hebridean Isles deal with the weekend hangover.

 READ MORE: New ferry fiasco as three CalMac lifeline ferries including MV Caledonian Isles are laid up for repairs in two days

The cancellations came as a potential alternative ferry route from Tarbert to the north part of Arran was unavailable on Sunday but became available from Monday.

The island ferry action group said that two weeks ago Arran nearly ran out of fuel after a ferry was redeployed and there are concerns about future supplies with the current 'crisis'.

The cancellations over the bank holiday weekend came on top of the introduction of a single vessel rather than the usual double ferry timetable to and from Brodick, the main village on Arran.

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But it has emerged that that state-controlled ferry operator had delayed the overhaul of the Caledonian Isles ferry.

Five empty articulated lorries that were supplying the key supermarket in Brodick was able to leave the island on Wednesday after being stranded for up up to two days.

But yesterday it emerged that due to what CalMac described as "crewing issues due to Covid protocols" five of the Hebridean Isles' sailings had to be cancelled.

The Arran Ferry Action Group which is saying the island economy now faces "serious challenges" said there were continuing concerns about future supplies of food and fuel reaching the island.

"Petrol is low," said chairman Sam Bourne. "There were no deliveries last week. A tanker was due to arrive today, but has not arrived yet. If it does not arrive tomorrow - unlikely with forecast bad weather - we could be very short.

"With five trucks stuck on the island, it means drivers cannot do their next deliveries and then there are trucks backing up on the other side to come back on.

"The reality is that if the ferries don't run how does the food come on. "There are a bunch of empty shelves but people are doing their damndest."

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CalMac apologised for disruption to scheduled services.

"In spite of our very best efforts to maintain services, the unprecedented speed of the spread of Covid cases at this time is resulting in the need to cancel services at very short notice," said a CalMac spokeswoman.

READ MORE: Lifeline CalMac ferry MV Caledonian Isles makes a return after being sidelined for four days

"Although we re-crewed and deep cleaned the MV Caledonian Isles after confirmed Covid cases were identified, poor weather then prevented any further sailings from going ahead.

"MV Caledonian Isles returned to service on the Ardrossan-Brodick route yesterday [Monday] and MV Loch Tarbert operated three return sailings to Lochranza from Tarbert.

"MV Hebridean Isles has now also returned to service however due to continuing adverse weather, all sailings between Ardrossan-Brodick are now cancelled for the remainder of the day."

She added that MV Loch Alainn would operate additional sailings between Lochranza, to the north of the island and Tarbert to help provide additional capacity to Arran.

Tommy Gore, the Clyde area operations manager for CalMac, said the deep clean was a "sensible" measure to take, particularly given the older population travelling on ferries and living on islands.

"The deep cleaning companies are actually responding pretty quickly - the case on Sunday, they were there within a couple of hours of us requesting them.

"The challenge was getting the replacement crew. Ardrossan is an easy place to get to - when we're talking about Ullapool or the outer isles it's much more challenging and it takes much longer."