Ferry return delayed after rudder damage discovered

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The MV Caledonian Isles, which is currently undergoing her annual overhaul at the Garvel dry dock in Greenock, will be returning to service later than scheduled owing to the discovery of corrosion on her port and starboard rudder stocks.

Originally scheduled to return on Sunday January 25, the vessel will not now return until Saturday February 2, if repairs and the resulting sea trials are successful.

The MV Hebridean Isles has been serving the Ardrossan to Brodick route during the absence of MV Caledonian Isles, with the assistance of MV Isle of Arran, which has been experiencing difficulties herself recently and operating on a reduced service due to technical difficulties with a lifeboat, which restricted passenger capacity. This has now been repaired.

On Saturday January 26 when the Ardrossan to Brodick route is scheduled to revert back to a single vessel service, the MV Hebridean Isles will continue to serve the route until MV Clansman arrives the following day to replace the delayed MV Caledonian Isles.

A CalMac spokesperson said: ‘The MV Caledonian Isles’ return to service from dry dock has been delayed due to unforeseen additional work which is required to replace the port and starboard rudder stocks. The rudder stocks were found to have corrosion when inspected at the start of her refit. As a result the two rudder stocks have had to be removed and sent to Denmark for specialist repairs. The vessel is now not expected out of dock until January 30, with a planned return to service, subject to successful sea trials, on February 2.’

Passengers have endured a fair amount of disruption recently, caused by the weather technical issues and a brief breakdown of the passenger access system. And there have been further problems at Ardrossan harbour, with foot passengers having to board and exit via the car deck during preliminary development works which are scheduled to last until the end of month at the Arran berth before moving on to the Irish berth and Winton pier.

The work involves drilling boreholes, trial pits and taking various scans across the habour site ahead of improvement works which have yet to be finalised.

Details of all changes are available on the CalMac website at www.calmac.co.uk and passengers are being advised that unavoidable changes have had to be made on other routes such as the Lochboisdale to Mallaig route which will divert to Oban two days earlier than planned, and timetable changes are also being made to the Oban to Coll to Tiree service.