TWO Scots ferries are to be out of action leading to fresh disruption on lifeline services, it has emerged.

Services between Mallaig and Armadale on the Isle of Skye, which were cancelled on yesterday (Monday) by state-owned ferry operator CalMac due to "adverse weather" and are expected to be further hit today (Tuesday) will see further disruption on Thursday and Friday.

This is due to the carrying out of unscheduled essential maintenance on the 21-year-old MV Lochnevis being carried out over two nights. The vessel, which can carry 190 passengers and 14 cars, will need to undertake sea trials each morning after the works have been carried out.

Lochnevis, which had its annual scheduled overhaul just last month, hit problems in early September after being put out of action due to a thruster issue in June.

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

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CalMac have said this has led to all services between Tarbert on Kintyre and Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula being cancelled both on Sunday and yesterday, and the ferry operator has said this will continue today (Tuesday).

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.


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 was expected yesterday (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.