With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay

[Update below – 29 July] Ferry operator CalMac has chartered a freight vessel for the next six days to ease disruption on the Islay service, following the MV Hebridean Isles being taken out of service for repairs after a coming together with the pier at  Kennacraig.

The very busy Islay service is currently being supported by a single vessel, the MV Finlaggan. the island’s principal ferry and one of the newest in the elderly and eclectic CMAL fleet.

The MV Red Princess, a cargo vessel that normally ships timber to Ayr, will ferry car traffic from Kennacraig to Islay and back to ease congestion on the route while the Heb Isles is being put right.

CalMac’s operations director, Drew Collier says: ”This is a stop gap in order to minimise disruption where possible; we are endeavouring to get everyone to Islay and back who wants to go.

‘Unfortunately, it may not be on the sailing originally booked as we have had to amend timetables, but we are all working extremely hard to get people where they want to go and appreciate passengers’ understanding.

‘CalMac engineers have also got the Finlaggan’s mezzanine vehicle deck back in action to ease queues.

‘We would urge people to think about whether they need to bring their car to the island over the next week and whether or not they would be prepared to have it shipped separately.

‘We are confident we can get vehicles back to people who choose this option promptly and will provide extra help with luggage and free taxi or minibus transport on the island in the meantime.’

The Red Princess cannot carry passengers but will be able to transport 20 cars or a number of commercial vehicle.

Mr Collier admits: ‘There will be delays due to the nature of the operation unfortunately, however we are determined to continue to deliver a service that meets the needs of island residents and visitors, we appreciate people’s patience,” he said.

‘Our customer contact team will be in touch with everyone who is booked on the service over the next week to let them know what their options are and how we propose to get them to their destination and when.

‘Again we would like to apologise for any inconvenience.’

Extra capacity is also being provided on Saturday through private charter to support the Colonsay route which, is also usually served by the MV Hebridean Isles. CalMac has not yet identified the nature of this private charter vessel so we do not know whether it is passenger only or is capable of taking vehicles.

It is anticipated that the Hebridean Isles  will be out of service for ‘around a week’.

Customers concerned about their journey should contact CalMac’s customer care helpline on 0800 066 5000.

Update – 29 July: The Saturday private charter for Colonsay is for passengers and bicycles only – CalMac say that this was the requirement. It is therefore likely to be one of the local RedBay Stormforce RIBS.

In response to our second question, CalMac say that the mezzanine car deck on MV Finlaggan had been out of action ‘for months’.

A reader has just put to us the following questions on the matter – we will put the questions to CalMac but our own understanding of the situation is given in italics after each question:

(1) who is liable  for this  Breakdown/Repairs? Is  Cmal/Calmac or AN Other? AN Other – us, the taxpayers. Formally, it will be CalMac’s responsibility since the compulsory contractual leasing of the CMAL fleet requires the boats to be ‘returned’ in the state in which they were leased. His outs the responsibility for maintenance and repair wholly upon CalMac. With both companies state owned, the cost would always be borne by the Scottish Government – aka the taxpayer – either way.

(2)  what are the governing  charter party terms and conditions between CMAL /Calmac  that apply to breakdowns. See answer above. CalMac is wholly responsible.

(3) who is picking up the bill for the Red Princess, and repairs to the Hebridean Isles, other than the sore pressed Scottish Tax payer. It is always and only the taxpayer.

The reader who sent the question has also said that local speculation has always had it that the Finlaggan’s problematic mezannine deck only works when the crew is minded to bring it into operation. It is certainly interesting that the mezzanine deck had been out of action ‘for months’ but that when extra capacity became an emergency need, ‘CalMac’s engineers’ were able to fix it.

The reader in question added that this break down of the Hebridean Isles [which is  not a breakdown but a necessary repair to collision damage] ‘follows lengthy breakdowns to MV’s Isle of Lewis and Isle of Arran, demonstrating clearly the the lack of any credible back-up  within the Calmac CHFS  network to minimise network dislocation from such eventualities. The evidence suggests operating over-age ferry units may be a contributory factor.’ This last is of course correct. The Scottish Government has not invested in regular fleet renewals and CalMac, as the operator compelled to take the asset holding company’s elderly fleet, is left to take the service users’ flak for the inevitably increasing rate of breakdowns.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • I wonder what caused the Hebridean Isles’ heavy contact with Kennacraig pier?
    The Isle of Arran got into trouble in West Loch Tarbert in 2010 when a mechanical failure led to just such a heavy contact with Kennacraig pier, but that was in February just days before she was due into drydock anyway.
    And there must be a question about to just what degree Calmac’s ship breakdowns are simply due to the age of their fleet, if the Finlaggan’s mezzanine deck was inoperable just when it was most needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    Robert Wakeham July 29, 2016 12:56 am Reply
    • Finlaggan’s mezzanine deck seems to have a recurring problem that we keep reading about. It’s something that needs sorting at her next dry docking certainly.
      I wonder if Calmac have a flying squad that travels round the ships doing extra maintenance, and identifying the reasons systems are not working as designed. They could work when the ships are stopped for the night especially in the busy season when the crews are already fully stretched.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Murdoch MacKenzie July 29, 2016 4:44 am Reply
      • There was (maybe still is?) a small ‘flying squad of’ engineers from Campbeltown who travelled the world repairing faults in ships on the move, and I got the impression that it was good business.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham July 29, 2016 10:49 am Reply
        • Yes, Riding Crews I think they are/were called. I knew a guy from Newcastle who left a few good jobs to go on these trips over the years. It wasn’t just the money, it got you to all kinds of exotic places.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          Murdoch MacKenzie July 29, 2016 12:05 pm Reply
  • The update raises more questions:
    1 – if the Finlaggan’s mezzanine deck has ‘inbuilt’ problems, liability might lie with the designer / supplier, if CMAL / Calmac weren’t responsible for the detailed design.
    Maybe the non-performance of the mezzanine deck is the subject of contractual dispute – and, if so, arguably, the cost not only of fixing the fault but in lost revenue etc might not be to the public account.
    2 – It’s easy to assume that an ageing fleet is less reliable, but if adequate resources are committed to maintenance (at increasing cost) to a rigorous standard, and maybe with the accent on preventative maintenance, then surely there’s less inherent risk in running quite a large fleet of ferries with little or no standby resources. The increasingly hefty costs of adequate maintenance would have the (perhaps politically unwelcome) benefit of making investment in new replacement ships more attractive. Unless, perhaps, they’re discovered to have ‘lemons’ like the Finlaggan’s mezzanine deck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    Robert Wakeham July 30, 2016 12:28 am Reply
  • It looks like the problems with Finlaggan’s Mezzanine deck is being addressed in the same fashion as the Isle of Lewis’s car deck disaster that cost taxpayers at least 100M GBP over the years and makes her an unsellable asset doing one run a day to Barra. I wonder what the loading figures are?
    That’s the beauty of being a state owned and fully subsidized company. When you mess up you don’t hold anyone responsible, you just throw a blanket over it and charter ships to cover the shortfall in capacity.
    The sooner the whole lot is opened to competition and this crazy RET is discontinued the sooner entrepreneurial shipping companies will provide the ports, ships and services that travelers and goods shippers want to use.
    I have previously costed running a mixed cargo, container or palletized shipping service from the Clyde to the Hebrides and it would need to be operating on a shoestring to compete with trucks being ferried at subsidized Calmac rates. This was ten years or more ago so I’m sure it will be a lot harder now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    Murdoch MacKenzie July 30, 2016 8:08 am Reply
    • I don’t often use their ferries now but when I was working I could be using them several times a week. Memory might be exaggerating the problem but every time there was a new ferry, there was a design problem. I remember a previous new ferry on the Islay run that could not use the linkspan at Kennacraig. Then there was the infamous ‘Tupperware Princess’. I am sure there were others, all basic design failures rather than equipment failures.

      Though I have a vague memory of a new Corran ferry having trouble using the slipway and having to be modified so not just Calmac.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Lundavra July 30, 2016 8:52 am Reply
  • And now the Isle of Mull has a technical issue – again!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Jade July 30, 2016 11:25 am Reply
    • What issue with the Isle of Mull? The service status page on the Mull route is showing no problems so not sure what your referring to?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Iain July 30, 2016 4:06 pm Reply
      • According to SoC there were technical issues Saturday morning but seems fixed around lunchtime.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Lundavra July 30, 2016 9:43 pm Reply
        • Technical issues will always be there, they have engineers on the crew to deal with the bulk of them but on occasions they may take more time to fix.
          Running shuttle services on the shortest routes with smaller vessels would make managing these problems easier and would allow adjustment of services depending on demand.
          Western have four ferries at Hunters Quay. They can adjust the frequencies and the speeds to give the maximum or the most efficient services based on need and vessel availability.
          Calmac run long-legged timetabled routes to steamer ports when shorter crossings are available and spend the summer season writing apologetic comments on their website.
          It would make more sense if we just had vehicle ferries and the foot passengers were subsidised to travel by air.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

          Murdoch MacKenzie July 31, 2016 7:21 am Reply
          • “It would make more sense if we just had vehicle ferries and the foot passengers were subsisised to travel by air.”

            When we used to go over to Mull regularly I always thought the foot passengers should be containerised!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

            Lundavra July 31, 2016 8:28 am
          • Western Ferries clearly run far less risk of service disruption, with four ferries on a very short route – but I wonder how often they encounter ‘technical issues’, or could their boats be easier to maintain and inherently more reliable?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

            Robert Wakeham July 31, 2016 1:02 pm
          • I would think the Western Ferry vessels are a lot simpler. They are open deck so none of the complications of the bow doors and seals as well mezzanines.

            When I went to Tiree recently we were nearly three hours late sailing and came close to cancellation because there was some sort of problem with one of the RIBs they carry. Those do not seem to be carried on the Western Ferries service.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

            Lundavra July 31, 2016 2:24 pm
          • There are obviously a lot of regulations to comply with. The distance from a safe haven is one factor in the designating of categories that would make the rules for the Islay vessels stricter than those applied to the Cowal ferries.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

            Murdoch MacKenzie July 31, 2016 5:00 pm
  • love a bit of spin, “technical Issues” the damn thing hit the pier – how can that be “technical” laziness, lack of attention, lack of skill, steering a boat without due care and attention, maybe but “technical” I doubt very much. The traveller suffers yet again

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    mike July 31, 2016 4:42 pm Reply
    • They’ve got a way with words, have Calmac.
      They say on their website, “We are aware of the impact this disruption has on our customers and the Islay and Jura community, who we thank for your patience.”
      Maybe they should have said, “We are aware of the disruption this impact has on our customers—–.”
      Seriously though, it probably was a mechanical or electrical fault that caused the collision. I remember a guy, back in the seventies, just back in the UK from Australia or New Zealand travelled up to Wick to buy a fishing boat and sailed her home with a couple of stops en route. Coming in to his home port he engaged reverse gear as he approached the pier and although the power had come off the gear did not move to reverse. He damaged the stem post and was making water but he was fortunately within a mile of a slipway where he started his fishing career with a hefty bill.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Murdoch MacKenzie July 31, 2016 5:24 pm Reply
  • I wonder if this latest drama will reignite the debate about Islay running its own ferry service, independently of Calmac/CMAL.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    Robert Wakeham July 31, 2016 6:09 pm Reply
  • The Red Princess is no use as it only carries 20 cars or a few commercial vehicles and it takes 3hrs 45 mins to travel from Kennacraig to Port Ellen. The Heb Isles ferry takes 2hrs 20 mins. As a result the Red Princess can only carry out one return trip per day. So far Calmac has been very lucky with the weather but if the route gets very windy weather then it will be “bite on the bullet” time for the MV Finlaggan skipper.
    The MV Isle of Arran also has major problems and as a result it cannot sail from Ardrossan to Campbeltown if the wind is 15 mph. Last Friday night’s sailing was cancelled as the wind was supposedly due to gust to 30 mph. I do not know where Calmac got that weather forecast from as the Met Office at Machrihanish was forecasting gusts of 15 mph.
    Transport Scotland and Scottish Government appear to have supressed information about the Heb Isles hitting the pier at Kennacrag and the subsequent ferry crisis for locals and visitors trying to travel to and from Islay at present.
    However that may change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

    Treble T August 1, 2016 2:41 pm Reply
    • I wonder what tourists think, having booked to go over to Islay with their car but told that they will have go across separately and either their car will hopefully follow later in the day or they will follow their car later in the day (or even next day)?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Lundavra August 3, 2016 7:52 am Reply
  • I’ve been told that the “obvious” ferry to come and help out on the Islay route would be the Isle of Arran, but its current certification means that it can’t leave the Clyde – supposedly sheltered waters – with the added restriction of the wind speed as TTT has said. Information from Campbeltown suggests that it is rarely more than 20–30% full so had it been fully seaworthy transferring it to the Islay route would not have inconvenienced too many people – certainly not as many as are being seriously inconvenienced on the Islay route. It is, after all, possible to reach Campbeltown by road!
    Regarding the Finlaggan’s mezzanine deck, this is being operated manually by the crew, or so I understand, adding half an hour or more to the turnround time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    Alex McKay August 2, 2016 4:54 pm Reply
  • The MV Isle of Arran currently has a problem with its prop which will not be repaired until this October. I read on another blog site that Calmac engineers have fixed the mezzanine deck problem which should help. However this afternoon (2nd August) the Red Princess did not sail to Port Ellen and remains berthed at Kennacraig. If it was too windy for it to sail then it will not be sailing tomorrow as the forecast is for even windier weather.
    I do not understand why there seems to be a news blackout regarding the Heb Isles hitting the pier at Kennacraig and suffering major damage.
    If it had been Serco instead of the Scottish Government owned Calmac you can be sure that the incident would have been blasted across the media throughout Scotland and beyond.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

    Treble T August 2, 2016 9:03 pm Reply
    • Was it major damage?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham August 2, 2016 10:40 pm Reply
      • Well it’s going to keep her in the drydock for at least another week if they are pulling the Arran in to help. So it must be structural or technical damage. Was it the bow that took the hit?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Murdoch MacKenzie August 6, 2016 4:58 pm Reply
    • Why would the Red Princess sail TTT when there was no cargo for it to take?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      James Walsh August 3, 2016 8:32 am Reply
      • It is reported in today’s Ileach that the Red Princess cannot sail if the wind is 20 mph or more. Wood boats do not have to sail to a laid down timetable. It will be interesting to see if the MV Finlaggan sails tomorrow (Sunday) as gales are forecast. According to minutes of the Islay Jura Ferry Group meeting on 8th April 2016, in March 2016 there 220 Calmac sailings to Islay.
        23 sailings were cancelled and 32 diverted due to weather and technical problems. This equates to 25% of the schedule being disrupted.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

        Treble T August 6, 2016 2:34 pm Reply
        • Perhaps it’s not so much that the Red Princess is a ‘wood boat’as that it’s a fairly flat-bottomed landing craft (plenty of pics on Ship AIS in its former existence as the Aspasia, ferrying HGVs around the Aegean).
          Other ‘wood boats’ – like the Ayress and the Raba – might not have a fixed schedule like the Calmac fleet, but they don’t tend to sit around waiting for good weather.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          Robert Wakeham August 6, 2016 4:36 pm Reply
        • TTT it also states in the Ileach that the Red Princess sails at 6am when it actually sails at 7.30am. The 20mph wind statement is reportedly something that was heard by someone. So far she has coped perfectly when required. You would think with all the fuss that’s being made we have been marooned for months.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          James Walsh August 6, 2016 4:45 pm Reply
          • You’re right. The Ileach does not know their UTC from BST. The Marine Traffic site gives her departure this morning as 0635 or half past seven on everybody’s watch.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

            Murdoch MacKenzie August 6, 2016 5:17 pm
    • Agree with the comments if this had been Serco. Every naysayer, union rep and many popularist headline grabbing MSPs would have been demanding heads and shouting from the rooftops. The left leaning national newspapers would have delighted in proving they were right about the inadequacies of private operators, lack of training, lack of vessel maintenance, dangerous operations, lack of experience, regardless of whether true, and that ‘Keeping Calmac’ was best.
      Yet, because this is dear Calmac, virtual silence from everyone and it’s accepted as ok. Will there be any proper or transparent investigation into what caused this and lessons to be learned? I very much doubt it. Swept under the carpet.
      The SNP Government will be desperate to keep this quiet in case people start to ask questions about just awarding another 8 years to this lot.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

      Jerry McIver August 3, 2016 12:07 pm Reply
  • So problems with the Finlaggan, the Heb Isles, the Red Princess harbour bound and the Arran. I hear that the Ali Cat has now also failed and will be off for a couple of days.

    I thought that CalMac were winning awards for being the best ferry company in Britain. All I can say is heaven help Britain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

    Peter Wade August 3, 2016 4:01 pm Reply
    • And now the MV Lochinvar is out of service due to a technical issue with her propulsion system

      Is this fleet breakdown a statistical co-incidence, or due to poor planned maintenance management ?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

      Scotnat August 3, 2016 5:58 pm Reply
    • Will there be any serious investigation or enquiry into this woeful performance? Nope, of course not. It’s Calmac so its all totally acceptable. What incentive is there for the contracting body (Transport Scotland) to look too closely at an operation whose ultimate sole shareholder is the Transport Minister. Much better to keep things out of the news, keep the unions quiet and pay whatever it takes. They fully justify being in receipt of another £1b of taxpayers money over the next 8 years to spend without any question or challenge, plus much more if they’ve got their sums wrong. There’s no penalty for them, nor financial protection for taxpayers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

      Jerry McIver August 3, 2016 10:47 pm Reply
      • “They fully justify being in receipt of another £1b of taxpayers money over the next 8 years to spend without any question or challenge, plus much more if they’ve got their sums wrong. There’s no penalty for them, nor financial protection for taxpayers.”

        was the contract not awarded on a fixed-price basis – if so, there will be no more if they have their figures wrong

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        James Smith August 11, 2016 12:24 pm Reply
      • https://www.calmac.co.uk/service-status?route=36

        This is the worst year ever.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        Richard August 11, 2016 12:41 pm Reply
  • I’ve never had anything other than admiration for CalMac ferry crews; in all weathers they do a good job. Compared with the commercial Isle of Wight ferry companies who have the most expensive rates per mile in the world and who are the most terrible whingers especially as anything you might hit here is an awful lot harder than there, CalMac are, almost, paragons who don’t entirely deserve the opprobrium heaped on them here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

    HansBlix August 4, 2016 3:29 pm Reply
    • HB, which IOW ferries were you using?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Richard August 4, 2016 5:36 pm Reply
      • Portsmouth to Ryde – Wightlink I think

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        HansBlix August 5, 2016 5:21 pm Reply
  • I’ve said this before but it needs to be repeated. Critisism of the ferry services provided through Calmac is justified when there are obvious better solutions available.
    The crews who man the vessels and the piers have, in my long experience of using the service, always acted very professionally and have on more than one occasion helped us in difficult circumstances to get ourselves across when there was no space for our vehicle at such short notice. They always offered to look after our vehicle, exchanged contact numbers, and send it on the next available crossing where it would be placed at the front so that I could be waiting at the ferry, walk on and drive it off. Such service is exemplary and deserves praise.
    The Finlaggan is just completing her third return journey to Islay after a very long day. When we look at Islay on the map there is not a lot of sea to cross if the Island of Jura was included in the route. A half hour crossing from the Carsaig Bay area and a road round the north of the Paps of Jura to a bridge or tunnel across the Sound of Islay maybe up near Bunnahabhain where the water is less deep.
    We need to work to make efficient and dependable infrastructure. The best ferries and the best crews cannot beat that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Murdoch MacKenzie August 4, 2016 11:56 pm Reply
  • Looks like the Isle of Arran is coming over to Islay to help. I hope the strong winds that are affecting the other routes does not make it a wasted exercise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Murdoch MacKenzie August 6, 2016 9:16 am Reply
    • But apparently only from Tuesday for 3 days, while the Finlaggan will also be operating a midnight service to Port Askaig & back, starting Monday night

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      Robert Wakeham August 6, 2016 12:29 pm Reply
  • The main problem is that Derek MacKay the SNP Scottish Government Transport Minister up to May 2016 made the Mallaig to Lochboisdale and Ardrossan to Campbeltown routes permanent resulting in no spare ferries to act as a relief vessel in the event of a major breakdown on the route. Thank goodness he is no longer the Scottish Government Transport minister otherwise goodness knows what daft ideas he would dream up for Calmac 2017-18 Summer Timetable period.
    Derek MacKay should be taken to task for his crazy decisions but no doubt Nicola Sturgeon will do nothing about it because it did not take place in the Central Belt between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

    Treble T August 6, 2016 2:22 pm Reply
    • As the Secretary of Finance he might now reflect on the important things he can’t afford to do because as Transport Secretary he chose to waste so much money on these daft idea’s that are going to be so politically difficult to now row back on.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Jerry McIver August 6, 2016 5:08 pm Reply
      • His main concern seemed to be keeping the “stakeholders” happy, an impossible task given their never ending expectancy of more and more subsidized tourist travellers delivered to their doors.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

        Murdoch MacKenzie August 6, 2016 5:27 pm Reply
  • Hebridean isles said it still at Garvel for repairs for bow vistor it fix perhaps it will be back to islay as soon as possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    Scott Smith August 6, 2016 5:53 pm Reply
  • CalMac ‘s whole USP, when fending off intrusion by other operators, has always been that only one large monopoly operator – itself of course – has the fleet resources to provide back-up and relief vessels. One might ask why this doesn’t seem to happen, given the very large sums spent on the company in recent years. I don’t think that the management at Gourock are any less competent than others in the industry, so the nature of the beast and its political drivers are where I would look for answers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    Arthur Blue August 7, 2016 11:58 am Reply
    • Not attempting to break the network into 2 or 3 smaller bundles delivered by separate contracts was a missed opportunity to drive a little competition into the service and allow some real benchmarking and accountability. It wasn’t in the vested interests of many who do very well out of a cumbersome status quo though so not surprising that wasn’t the recommendation to ministers.
      The whole lot could still have operated under the Calmac brand and ships could all be painted the same, like London red busses are operated by a number of different contractors.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      Jerry McIver August 7, 2016 12:51 pm Reply
      • Might help if the management – and that might include some senior civil servants and the Transport Minister – were moved to an island, or even just to Oban.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

        Arthur Blue August 7, 2016 6:46 pm Reply
  • It has taken going into the 3rd week of chaos on the Islay route for Calmac /Scottish Transport to get round to implementing a credible option to minimise disruption.And what is it? To run the MV Finlaggan round the clock, on a 24 hour service. Does it take an Einstein to come up this plan of action? NO. Instead Islay was offered a slow speed log- transporter which could only operate in benign sea conditions .

    If a Calmac ferry can operate 24 hrs a day in these circumstances, why can’t the Calmac network operate its major routes on a round the clock basis particularly during Summer peak periods,similar to Norway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

    Scotnat August 8, 2016 9:23 am Reply
    • It might be stretching their crew resources? – I can’t think of any other defensible explanation.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

      Robert Wakeham August 8, 2016 10:53 am Reply
      • The crew don’t like it, or their contracts entitle them to triple overtime, time off if lieu, an extra week’s holiday and a case of rare malt… or whatever concessions the unions have screwed out of Scottish Government over the years. It would probably be cheaper to charter the timber boat than to resource up for 24 hour operation.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

        Jerry McIver August 8, 2016 11:22 am Reply
        • The ‘timber boat’ has now departed from Kennacraig, bound for Larne – and, meanwhile, her replacement, the Isle of Arran, is tied up at Troon

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          Robert Wakeham August 8, 2016 11:27 am Reply
          • Yes, she’s having a couple of days of before going round the Mull on her ardous nine off, two hour single journeys spread over three days.
            She must have something seriously wrong with her. The first I noticed was when she struggled to get into Tarbert on her first visit when she went up with the Heb Isles to relieve on the Triangle route. I think they kept her off that leg as much as possible for the duration of the relief.
            How it hasn’t been put right by now is the mystery. It is maybe too expensive given her age. If that is the case she should not be allocated to a timetable as that is deceiving the customers.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

            Murdoch MacKenzie August 8, 2016 12:23 pm
    • pretend scot
      you bleat “… why can’t the Calmac network operate its major routes on a round the clock basis particularly during Summer peak periods, similar to Norway..”

      Answer: Norway is independent pretend and has its own resources and wealth rather than giving it away to Wastemonster and getting less back. Thanks for your opend door question pretendy.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      No Cheese Here August 10, 2016 1:06 am Reply
      • NCH

        Not a bleat. Scottish Govt Ferry provision has a problem

        I suggest you re-read the SNP’s manifesto of promises for the 2014 Referendum, to correct your obvious ignorance of what the SNP pledged it would offer an Independent Scotland re Ferry service provision. The SNP only pledged to deliver its 2012 Ferry Plan . That makes no offer of 24 hr services
        on summer routes. SNP government is currently failing to deliver its 2012 Ferry Plan.

        Accepting your premis that a 24 hr ferry service would be a ‘given’ in an Independent Scotland, it would appear from this article by Alex Neil, (Former SNP cabinet Minister) this gonna be a long timing coming, if ever.

        (www.holyrood.com/articles/comment/idea-brexit-could-suddenly-push-scotland-towards-yes-vote-isn%E2%80%99t-supported-evidence)

        Oh ..and by the way ….Norway’s coastal ferries, unlike Scotland’s, are NOT run, and owned by the State

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

        Scotnat August 11, 2016 12:04 pm Reply
  • It has in winter 2016/17 it being a different calmac relief vessel to cover for her while Finlaggan is on own the islay run, A two vessel route.

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    Scott Smith August 9, 2016 1:51 am Reply
  • Hebridean isles’ bow ramp was done hopefully that she will be return to the islay route either thursday friday or saturday.

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    Scott Smith August 9, 2016 1:53 am Reply
    • The Hebridean Isles is in the Sound of Gigha, making for Kennacraig, while the Isle of Arran is still on the Arran service – Calmac’s website now showing the Heb Isles back in service, including to Colonsay, but still showing the Finlaggan doing extra midnight runs to Port Askaig this week.
      I wonder if this is to clear a backlog of traffic?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham August 9, 2016 11:17 am Reply
  • How come, on Monday, Calmac announce that the MV Isle of Arran will be re-deployed to the Islay service from Tuesday, yet very early Tuesday morning sail MV Hebridean Isles from Greenock with repairs completed. Meanwhile MV Arran does not move from the Clyde, and goes back on the Arran service!

    This suggests woeful ship-management.

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    Scotnat August 9, 2016 12:55 pm Reply
    • The Isle of Arran spent some time at the weekend away from its normal duties, down at Troon – for some reason – and both this and the apparent unexpectedly rapid completion of repairs to the Heb Isles would be worthy of explanation – but whether Calmac/CMAL, or their political masters, see fit to offer one is another matter.
      Similarly, whether these same folk learn anything from this debacle remains to be seen, suggesting, as it does, that they failed to learn from the similar Orkney debacle a few years back – despite having the dosh to play with extremely expensive hybrid ferry experiments.

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      Robert Wakeham August 9, 2016 1:10 pm Reply
      • It also demonstrates that the state operator is no better at managing this situations than a private contractor. Worse arguably, as they have an entire fleet to play with and one of the reasons for keeping it all as one bundle was the ability to quickly move vessels around and overcome issues. This obviously isn’t the reality.
        I recalled that Transport Scotland and Serco documented and published the chronology and actions following the Orkney debacle – http://www.transport.gov.scot/system/files/documents/reports/Hamnavoe%20Breakdown%20-Final%20Report%20-%20March%202014.pdf

        I doubt there will be any effort to provide Islay with any similar levels of accountability or transparency.

        We all know the hybrid ferries are a job creation exercise to keep Fergusons alive. How many new 3rd party orders for vessel do the have on their books on the back of these innovative developments? The money would have been better spent investing in resiliency, not vanity projects.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

        Jerry McIver August 9, 2016 2:28 pm Reply
      • The ‘Isle of Arran is here in Campbeltown, bow on with engineers working on it.
        Another weekend without a ferry!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        Richard August 12, 2016 11:17 am Reply
  • the talk I hear at the moment is that the captain that hit the pier also hit the dock when taking the ferry for repair!! Anyone else heard this or is it just pub talk and a little stirring????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

    mike August 10, 2016 9:56 pm Reply
    • Might also be that the designs favoured by CalMac have far too much windage for their draft.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      Arthur Blue August 11, 2016 10:21 am Reply
  • so that’s how it is, it finish for the day

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    Scott Smith August 10, 2016 10:34 pm Reply
  • Hebridean isles will be on the Kennacraig-islay route and so does Finlaggan too, the two islay vessel route starring in winter 2016/17 24th october 2016, however one vessel is on the islay route, (or two vessels on the islay route in winter).

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    Scott Smith August 10, 2016 10:37 pm Reply
  • Lets hope Newsie pops up again soon Even you guys must be running out of things to say about this ferry service.
    I do find it intriguing that all bar one of the SNP trolls have disappeared too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    JimB August 13, 2016 7:13 pm Reply
    • Quite apart from what the SNP (and maybe other?) trolls are up to, the Islay ferry saga fully deserves to be vigorously investigated.
      What on earth is a large ferry company with clearly inadequate spare resources doing operating the Finlaggan with a persistently malfunctioning mezzanine deck?
      What other problems are currently affecting their fleet? – the Isle of Arran appears to have some issues that aren’t entirely clear affecting the boat’s performance, there are questions about the reliability or otherwise of the new hybrid diesel / electric ferries, and of course there’s the question of why the Hebridean Isles has collided with Kennacraig pier in an incident that brings to mind the Isle of Arran colliding with the same pier on 8th Feb 2010.
      That incident resulted in an enquiry by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, and the Daily Record reported ‘problems with maintenance and testing were factors in the crash, along with the failure to investigate a previous failure properly’
      Is there scope for improvement of Calmac’s internal management procedures; is Calmac’s performance compromised by the way in which the government oversees it?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

      Robert Wakeham August 13, 2016 8:38 pm Reply
      • To reiterate my post on 3 Aug, if the contract was being delivered by a private operator, Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, the unions, MSPs and the Minister would be falling over themselves to demonstrate they were managing the contract very closely to ensure the service is delivered as expected and taxpayers are protected and the operator is publicly held to account.
        One has to question the conflicts of interest inherent when contracting party and operator ultimately lead to the same person. No wonder nobody seems desperate to look too closely at recent misfortunes, especially as that same person has rubber stamped another 8 years and £1b! Have we seen any details of those 350 ‘improvements’ promised yet?

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        Jerry McIver August 14, 2016 2:02 pm Reply
    • JIMB the yooniist troll. This thread is just tiresome greetin by a load of brexitteers and yoony’s. jimb has little knowledge of the workings of ferries and marine traffic. Leave it out jimboy

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

      No Cheese Here August 15, 2016 1:06 am Reply
      • How about little knowledge of Government powers over transport in Scotland? Independence or not, EU in or out, it is irrelevant. Transport is a fully devolved responsibility to Scottish Government now.
        This issue has nothing to do with any view on independence or Brexit.
        The only link is that remaining in the EU means the services have to be tendered under the EU rules Scotland would have to accept.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

        Jerry McIver August 15, 2016 11:25 am Reply
  • This sad saga is now being reported in the Sunday Mail and makes interesting reading.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    Richard August 14, 2016 10:37 am Reply
  • It is the East Europeans at fault!!

    Herald
    Robert Wakeham 9:58am Mon 15 Aug 16

    Reminiscent of the early days of some ‘democratically elected’ governments in Eastern Europe after WW2.

    yooniists complain about everything at all times. Why do you remain. Hadrians wall is pretty wee you can hop over it!! Of course you remain because it is the best place to be despite the attempts of RUK to undermine.
    The folk like free education, NHS- in Scotland, Free travel for 60’s, prescriptions. So the greeters on here know to move to toryland they will be worse off.

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    No Cheese Here August 15, 2016 12:59 pm Reply
    • NCH, no matter what you say the ferry performance has been poor and certainly effected peoples businesses.
      Who are you going to blame?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

      Richard August 15, 2016 5:36 pm Reply
      • I blame dick.

        Furthermore in a world exclusive Foreign Argyll has reported that the tide will come in and then go out again. Brexiters blame the EU and its regulations. Their feet remain wet as they refuse to wear foreign made wellies.

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        No Cheese Here August 18, 2016 5:15 pm Reply
    • Quoting me out of context, NCH – but it’s nice to know that you read my despicable comments in the Herald, as well as enthusiastically scrutinising this, your favourite despicable blog. Chin up, don’t let your enemies get you down.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham August 15, 2016 10:02 pm Reply
  • The BBC Scottish News website today has a lengthy item about Calmac’s trials and tribulations with the good ship Isle of Arran.
    However, it’s really only padding out the previously known facts as deemed suitable for release by Calmac, and leaves the details of the boat’s problems unexplained. It’s basically a case of ‘bear with us, there’ll be jam tomorrow’.
    Someone needs to spell out to the Calmac management – and our Holyrood politicians – that if you drive an old banger that wouldn’t pass its MOT and gave the police some feeble excuse about not being able to find spare parts you’d wind up in court.
    The BBC could at least have asked Calmac to explain what sort of problems were making the boat more susceptible to weather cancellations – and as to the Finlaggan running about with a broken mezzanine deck and the Heb Isles crashing into Kennacraig pier, maybe the BBC consider these matters to be unworthy of reporting, let alone investigation.

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    Robert Wakeham August 16, 2016 1:41 pm Reply
    • Calmac is untouchable of course. Beyond criticism or challenge. There’s nobody in Scottish Government with an incentive to force accountability or ask awkward questions. Any shortcomings identified would embarrass the Minister as sole shareholder of the operator, ultimate manager of the contract, or political decision maker for funding of subsidy, infrastructure and assets.
      Throw a powerful union to keep onside and some media influence into the mix and its no surprise the message is ‘no serious problem here’.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

      Jerry McIver August 16, 2016 3:17 pm Reply
  • Offy Quiet on here,these days………..
    Who’s going to lead ” bother together” ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    A.Salmon August 20, 2016 6:31 pm Reply
    • The comments on this particular thread (at least, those that are relevant and not just trying to make everything political) can be read as reflecting wider concerns, and it’s now being reported in the newspapers that the seriously inadequate response of Calmac when the Hebridean Isles had to be withdrawn from service for repairs in the middle of the summer tourist season is going to be reviewed at a meeting in Islay in October, reportedly to be hosted by our MSP, to hold Calmac, Transport Scotland and the Government to account.
      Hopefully they’ll have the sense to leave the bullshit on the mainland.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      Robert Wakeham August 20, 2016 8:35 pm Reply
      • unlikely the bullshit will be left on the mainland. I remember Alan Reid “holding to account” BT and several other telecom providers regarding the state of broadband and the mobile phone services. That was very funny as I am sure that was done with everyone involved agreement. If the meeting on Islay provides the same entertainment it would be worth listening to, but don’t expect too many “results”

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        mike August 21, 2016 1:04 pm Reply
      • I gather that Mike Russell is going to convene the meeting and seems to be promising that, by getting the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and CalMac into one room together with the ferry users of Islay, a contingency plan will be produced, something which none of those three parties had apparently thought necessary to have before. Why not would seem to be a good first question. I’m unsure why it has to take up to two months to convene such a meeting. What’s wrong with next week? However, one can only expect a typical politician’s response from a politician. Offering a meeting in two months time takes the immediate heat off the government who, though, need reminding time and again that they are the actually owners of the ferry company. In the meantime, the Finlaggan apparently had a problem with one of its ramps this morning while her mezzanine floor, which has been broken for months, can’t be repaired until she dry-docks. Heigh-ho. While my friends keep telling me of the joys of living on Islay, it must surely lose its attraction a little bit when you can’t get on and off the island when you want to.

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        Alex McKay August 21, 2016 8:30 pm Reply
  • A movable mezzanine deck that can’t be repaired unless the ship is dry docked?
    Sounds a bit like a car that needs dismantling before the oil can be changed. I wonder if someone specified some really exotic features on that mezzanine deck that no commercial ship owner in their right mind would dream up in their worst nightmare – but which the ship builder was only too happy to install, if the price was right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

    Robert Wakeham August 21, 2016 8:42 pm Reply
  • the islay ferry in winter 2016/17, that has one vessel only 24th October – 29th november 2016 and from 2nd – 21st january and from 13th -30th march 2017. there are two vessels 30th november – december 2016, 22nd january – 12th march 2017. however port ellen linkspan was closed 24th ocrober – 13th november 2016. this winter a different relief vessel to cover for her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    Scott Smith August 22, 2016 11:05 am Reply
  • And a different relief vessel will cover for her on the Ardrossan-Brodick route meanwhile Caledonian isles went away for annual 2017 overhaul in january 2017.

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    Scott Smith August 23, 2016 9:12 pm Reply
    • Scott Smith – you give the impression that you have advance knowledge of future vessel deployments, but you get your dates, boats and places jumbled up. Any chance you could clarify these, please?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Robert Wakeham August 24, 2016 1:26 am Reply
  • He’s not just getting things muddled up, he is now into time travel, telling us what happened in January 2017!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    Alex McKay August 24, 2016 2:17 pm Reply
  • sorry about that. now back to the winter timetables. As the first glance the timetable look somewhat complicated as both ferries will go into dry dock, there will be works on the link span in port Ellen and there will be a period in the winter when there’s only one ferry servicing the island.

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    Scott Smith August 24, 2016 5:08 pm Reply
  • Commitments made by Calmac for the next contract just announced to include:

    “Work in partnership with shipyards to plan long-term maintenance activities to minimise reactive maintenance.”

    Really? Surely this is fundamentally basic operating competence that any serious operator would be doing anyway and you’d hope Calmac has been doing this for years already?
    It beggars belief that this should be a headline element of the next contract. Have they been taking the ‘wait till it breaks’ approach until now?

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    Jerry McIver August 29, 2016 5:35 pm Reply
  • And what about a different relief ferry?

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    Scott Smith August 29, 2016 6:06 pm Reply
  • Hebridean isles & Isle of Arran are relief vessels this winter 2016/17

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Scott Smith September 8, 2016 2:05 am Reply
  • Calmac’s website again showing they don’t have a clue what’s going on in their organisation?

    “Friday 9th September
    MV Lord of the Isles carried out an earlier timetable due to the forecast of high winds, gusting over 40mph, and managed to complete both journeys.

    All sailings between Mallaig and Lochboisdale have been completed for today.

    Reason: weather conditions

    Last Updated: 09 Sep 2016 11:51”
    Are they confused by what they had planned but did not do or getting mixed up with the Isle of Lewis to Barra?
    I was going to travel on one of their ferries tonight but I’ve decided to stay at home, don’t want to gamble against being sat at the quayside until the middle of the night waiting for the wind to drop.

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    Murdoch MacKenzie September 9, 2016 12:53 pm Reply
  • I think I may need to apologise about the LOTI. It may be that her AIS went on the blink at 3 O’clock yesterday morning, so she probably had done her early run on Friday.
    Here’s another Calmac AIS mystery, if you click on Catriona at Port Glasgow the details for the Hallaig open. You cannot see Hallaig on AIS but if you search the name it takes you to Port Glasgow (I’m assuming that Hallaig is still at Raasay). Have they moved the AIS set from Hallaig to Catriona and not changed the details properly? Is a working AIS system not a requirement on a commercial vessel?

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    Murdoch MacKenzie September 10, 2016 10:29 am Reply
  • I see the Isle of Lewis oil cooler “technical issue” has resurfaced this morning with the vessel held back at Barra. I hope they have got a new one on order for when she goes for her annual re-fit, especially if it is a corrosion issue. Patch repairs just send the problem along to the next weak spot.

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    Murdoch MacKenzie September 14, 2016 10:56 am Reply
  • Isle of Lewis said it suffered a technical problem on Wednesday morning that the ferry was running late at 16:40 for castlebay with the 13:40 ex Oban. Engine room with the oil and repairs held up her departure from castlebay by over 2 hours.

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    Scott Smiith September 14, 2016 5:51 pm Reply
  • Here we go again ~

    Talks over a pay dispute between ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne and the RMT union have broken down.

    The union claims CalMac offered a two-year pay rate based on the consumer price index rather than the retail price index, which would mean staff pay will “fall behind the cost of living”.

    A yearly bonus of 1.5% if the company makes a profit is also under threat, the RMT said.

    They will be an absolute world class company plus some, if they can repay all the subsidies they receive, then make a profit, which apparently they can then give a dividend to their staff. Is it just me, or is this idea some truly masterful fictional dream?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    Dunoon Lad September 15, 2016 9:45 pm Reply
    • How is it the state owned company even makes a profit? Would this profit be any more or less than a private operator?
      Would a 1.5% bonus wipe out any marginal profit made anyway.
      Where is Calmac getting its £6m it promised to invest in vessels and ports in the next contract if it isn’t coming from its profits, which are generate only from payment of excess subsidy anyway?
      Any business that costs more to deliver than it gets in revenue cannot by definition make a profit. Any ‘profit’ is just an allowable return funded from the payment of excess subsidy. There may be good reasons to allow this cash buffer to be created, but it is not ‘profit’. It is an operational slush fund.

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      Jerry McIver September 16, 2016 9:52 am Reply
  • .

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    Robert Wakeham September 25, 2016 3:56 pm Reply
  • For anyone interested in the trials & tribulations of Calmac, there’s news this afternoon that the ‘technical’ issue on the Skye – Uist triangular service today is actually due to the ‘Hebrides’ failing to stop upon arrival at Lochmaddy from Uig.
    Apparently she collided with both pontoons and the seabed, but no-one was injured and the hull is reportedly still intact. Services cancelled for today & tomorrow, and it’ll be interesting to see the knock-on effect on operations and – maybe more importantly – whether there’s a pattern to these accidents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Robert Wakeham September 25, 2016 3:57 pm Reply
    • Even if there has been some damage done to the vessel and harbour facilities this must be put down as a serious near miss.
      I think you are right Robert about a pattern to these accidents and there may be changes required for all passenger carrying vessels if not all vessels.
      I remember reading somewhere when aircraft went “fly by wire” there were eight systems backing each other up to make sure that the control surfaces would still respond to the pilots joystick.
      Sometimes things get so smart that people get too impressed, then one day it does not work and there is no time to fix it.
      I got cruise control retro-fitted to a car a few weeks ago. I was mistakenly under the impression all the years I have been using it on previous cars that it worked on the fuel supply. I now know that it just links into the engine management system. I’ve noticed that when I go up to higher gears (automatic) it holds the gear much better than is possible with the throttle. It must use the available torque range and overrides the gearbox control which is probably electronic as well. It’s clever but am I in control, that’s a thought.
      I think ships may have started moving down this path and don’t have a plan B, as Alasdair Darling used to say.

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      Murdoch MacKenzie September 25, 2016 8:38 pm Reply
      • That sounds a bit like the ‘smart’ gear selector on the West Coast Citylink buses – mechanically it’s a manual gearbox, but controlled by a system that senses when it’s time to change gear, thus saving fuel compared with a traditional auto change (but often unable to make its mind up which gear to select ascending the hill at the back of Cairndow).

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham September 26, 2016 4:12 pm Reply
        • Whatever the technical issue, the fact is a large Calmac passenger ferry has run out of the control of its captain in fine, flat and calm sailing condition. Through sheer luck ‘only’ £100k of damage has been done smashing into a marina and the vessel has reportedly grazed its hull on the seabed, although some eye witnesses talk of the vessel coming to an abrupt halt suggesting it hit something more solid. But the extent of that damage isn’t know yet.

          This is an extremely serious maritime safety incident whose root cause needs to be investigated thoroughly with the results being made public.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

          Jerry McIver September 26, 2016 5:23 pm Reply
  • I see the Arran is now a couple of hours out of Ardrossan on the long trek around Scotland to drydock in Aberdeen – a good deal further, and even more time consuming, than the trip to Birkenhead.
    Meanwhile, a short trip up the Clyde at Govan, there are three abandoned dry docks – intact but for their gates – lying derelict.
    It’s a strange world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    Robert Wakeham September 26, 2016 9:16 pm Reply
    • It’s all going pear-shaped for Calmac since they “won” the contract.
      The Isle of Lewis has lost two days because of weather although the Lord of the Isles is operating an increased service to Loch Boisdale.
      If the Loch Boisdale to Mallaig route is to be dropped for until they get the Hebrides back, you would think they would move the Isle of Lewis up to Lochmaddy and get the Lord of the Isles on the Castlebay run to Oban with back up from Clansman doing overnights if the demand is there.
      It’s like they are in a state of paralysis.
      If only they had upgraded Craignure last year the Isle of Lewis could do the Mull work, and the Mull boats could move to Uig and Mallaig for now.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      Murdoch MacKenzie September 28, 2016 10:13 am Reply
      • I can’t agree with your last paragraph – MV Isle of Mull can’t take dangerous goods and passengers due to her enclosed car deck ; MV Coruisk’s certificate restricts her to a short distance from shore and cannot operate in the hours of darkness.

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        Nigel Macleod September 28, 2016 12:49 pm Reply
        • Strange indeed – I wonder if, at the time of drawing up the spec for the ‘Isle of Mull’, Calmac assumed that there’d be no need for road tankers to deliver fuel to Mull from Oban?

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          Robert Wakeham September 28, 2016 7:20 pm Reply
        • The Isle of Mull has done the Ullapool Stornoway run more than once and I can remember travelling from Stornoway to Uig on her many years ago when she was fairly new. I can’t remember why we had to use that route, it was a Monday morning so she was maybe re-positioning after a spell on the Ullapool run.
          Re dangerous goods the Outer Hebrides are all well connected with the spinal route. The Loch Seaforth, the Clansman and the Lord of the Isles have open decks and are all already on the runs so I’m sure they could cope until the Hebrides gets repaired.
          Re the Coruisk, I crossed to Armadale two years ago in September in very severe weather. We were on the ~0930 sailing and I saw her making an earlier sailing that morning and on the previous evening when it was getting pretty dark.

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          Murdoch MacKenzie September 28, 2016 8:18 pm Reply
        • I don’t know about the MV Isle of Mull, but can’t agree about the Coruisk. The Coruisk has sailed numerous times between Gourock and Dunoon during the hours of darkness.

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          Dunoon Lad September 29, 2016 8:41 pm Reply
  • Now that Lord for the isles didn’t able to berth at Mallaig this summer that due to the continuing deterioration in the weather on the west coast. It is wind and rain stormy weather don’t you remember. It’s blowing up to Storm force 10 adverse gale 15. Perhaps the most important thing is that the government has been the bad weather. Next summer 2017 Bring MV Coruisk back to Mallaig and bring MV Lord of the isles back to Oban, it was wrong.

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    Scott Smith September 28, 2016 1:47 pm Reply
  • Listen up folks Next Summer Isle of Mull and Coruisk are on the Oban-Craignure route Isle of Lewis is on the Oban-Castlebay route Lord of the isles is on the Mallaig-Armadale/Lochboisdale route and Lochinvar Clansman is on the Oban-Coll-Tiree/Colonsay and Castlebay Route then Hebridean isles. Someting happened.

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    Scott Smiith September 28, 2016 2:06 pm Reply
  • In summer 2017 Bring MV Coruisk back to Mallaig Bring MV Lord of the isles back to Oban, MV Isle of Mull is on the Oban-Craignure route.

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    Scott Smiith September 28, 2016 9:39 pm Reply
  • Clansman the relief vessel on the Uig-Lochmaddy/Tarbert route. Isle of Lewis take additional sailing to Lochmaddy and back to Barra. Hebrides was annual leave for Greenock Dry Dock Greenock. Lord of the isles is back to Oban on the Oban-Coll-Tiree/Colonsay route. next summer Clansman & Lord of the isles are ferries on the Oban-Coll-Tiree/Castlebay-Lochboisdale route. and Colonsay for Lord of the isles.

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    Scott Smith September 29, 2016 10:47 pm Reply
  • Good to see that the ‘Hebrides’ has now left Lochmaddy and is doing 10 knots between Coll & Mull en route to Greenock.

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    Robert Wakeham September 29, 2016 11:52 pm Reply
    • I read somewhere that she got one of her props entangled in the marina mooring chains, likely her starboard prop. Let’s hope she can be restored to her previous condition as she has been a very dependable asset in the fleet up until the loss of control last Sunday.

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      Murdoch MacKenzie September 30, 2016 3:25 am Reply
  • finaly Hebrides remained at Greenock for Garvel dry dock for repairs.

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    Scott Smith October 1, 2016 2:49 pm Reply
    • I see that, unlike the Hebridean Isles a few weeks ago which had to wait outside for several days, the Hebrides has gone straight into the dry dock. Does anyone here believe that accidents always come in threes! If so, which ship’s soon going to ram which pier? 🙂

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      Alex McKay October 2, 2016 8:31 am Reply
      • The Hebrides’ instant access to the Garvel dry dock at Greenock is s bit of a surprise, given that the semi-disabled Arran has just been sent all the way around to Aberdeen for drydocking.

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        Robert Wakeham October 2, 2016 10:59 am Reply
        • Somebody had previously mentioned on here that the Arran was getting her repair done in October, so I imagine that she was booked in at Aberdeen to get her full dry docking workscope done at the same time. I’m not sure when the Hebrides was due her annual visit.
          I notice the FPV Minna arrived at James Watt Dock two days ago as well, she is tied up at the quay so I wonder if the Scottish Government have agreed to let the Hebrides use the dry dock first, I’m only guessing here but it would make sense.

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          Murdoch MacKenzie October 2, 2016 7:54 pm Reply
  • Now Coruisk the second ferry on the Oban-Craignure route until 23rd October 2016 and continue on 31st march 2017.

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    Scott Smith October 1, 2016 4:23 pm Reply
  • Coruisk become the second ferry on the Oban-Craignure route only for 3 weeks till 23rd October 2016. Next summer 2017 review Mallaig for MV Coruisk on the skye route. It changed.

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    Scott Smiith October 4, 2016 10:19 am Reply
  • I see the MD’s quit. Interesting way to kick start the new contract.

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    Jerry McIver October 7, 2016 11:07 am Reply
  • The Hebrides is supposed to be doing sea trials tomorrow and all being well the ferries that have been moved will return to their regular routes on Monday.
    I also see that the heavy lift ship Hawk has set sail for Malta with the Transocean Winner, the money spent on that salvage operation would even make Calmac’s eyes water, £38M quoted at the last counting.

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    Murdoch MacKenzie October 14, 2016 10:18 pm Reply
    • And the ‘Isle of Arran’, over in Aberdeen, is no longer in the dry dock – so perhaps she’ll return to action fairly soon.

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      Robert Wakeham October 16, 2016 3:53 pm Reply
      • I see another vessel has gone into the dry-dock so she may still have some tasks to complete in the wet basin.
        It used to be a long list, I’ve only worked on one ferry re-fit back in the days of Burns and Laird.
        From memory all the deck vents had to be opened and the seals inspected and replaced if necessary, all the plumbing and the wiring and the effluent holding tank gets a thorough going over, the engines were desooted and any worn parts or corroded pipes were renewed. The accommodation would need spruced up and everything painted spick and span.
        Of course there would be repair and project tasks going on as well as the maintenance, so it all takes a few weeks to get finished.

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        Murdoch MacKenzie October 17, 2016 12:48 pm Reply
        • That’s her just passing Peterhead on the way home.

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          Robert Wakeham October 18, 2016 6:57 pm Reply
          • She spent a long time doing trials outside Aberdeen yesterday. Seemed to be turns and maneuvers mostly, hope they have fixed her problem.
            She’s showing Uig as her destination. Maybe she will standby there until the Mod traffic is cleared at the weekend. The winter timetables start this weekend as well so maybe she will be doing relief work.

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            Murdoch MacKenzie October 19, 2016 8:10 am
          • I wonder if Calmac have considered converting one or two of the older ships into truck carriers, may be an idea after the two new ships are delivered. The Arran could have her gallery decks removed so that the garage space is improved.
            One could be used in the Summer season on the Stornoway route allowing the Loch Seaforth to go to three tourist runs per day. They could probably use one at Islay as well.
            They could run at a lower speed with smaller crews.

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            Murdoch MacKenzie October 19, 2016 10:19 am
          • Well, she didn’t stop at Uig, so it’s probably Ardrossan, or is it?

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            Murdoch MacKenzie October 19, 2016 1:44 pm
          • She is sending Greenock as the destination now, does that mean more work required?

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            Murdoch MacKenzie October 19, 2016 8:26 pm
  • Hebrides set sail for Coll & Tiree and back to Oban and away for two islands North uist & Harris relieving Clansman back to Oban.

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    Scott Smith October 16, 2016 2:20 pm Reply
  • Lord of the isles will continue on the Mallaig-Armadale route for 1 week till 24th October 2016 and Coruisk will continue on the Oban-Craignure route for 1 week till 23rd October 2016.

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    Scott Smith October 16, 2016 2:22 pm Reply
  • 24th Ocotber 2016 Finlaggan is on her own On the Kennacraig-Islay/Colonsay while Port ellen was closed meanwhile Hebridean isles went away for her annual 2017 overhaul.

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    Scott Smith October 16, 2016 8:09 pm Reply
  • That’s Isle of Arran heading for Oban according to her AIS. She must have had some extra repairs going on at James Watt dock, she was going to pick up the Barra run from Oban this afternoon but they said it was dependent on her repairs being completed.
    Isle of Lewis is off to Stornoway to do an extra Mod run and I think she will take over the Ullapool run from tomorrow. It’s about a year since Loch Seaforth last went to dry dock. There is going to be a second vessel doing two freight runs a day, I’m guessing it’s the Isle of Arran as it is timetabled for 3-1/2 hours per journey.
    Castlebay and Lochboisdale are sharing the LOTI to Mallaig for the next few days, we’ll need to see what happens there, I’m sure there will be complaints if they don’t get it right.

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    Murdoch MacKenzie October 22, 2016 10:38 am Reply
    • Not correct. MV Isle of Lewis has taken over the Ullapool-Stornoway service this afternoon (Sat-22) with the 1530hrs departure from Stornoway. MV Loch Seaforth had taken the extra sailing frpom Stornoway to help with the MOD traffic. MV Hebridean Isles is heading to Stornoway to take over the freight service whist Loch Seaforth is away for drydocking (she has a greater weight capacity than the MV Isle of Arran).MV Isle of Arran will take the Oban-Castlebay service if the currebt sea trials are successful. MV Lord of the Isles is due to drydock as soon as the summer timetable is finished so she will be heading off Sun evening/Monday.
      IS THIS TOPIC NOT WANDERING FAR OFF IT’s HEADING???

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      Nigel Macleod October 22, 2016 4:03 pm Reply
      • Yes, I see that the Calmac Islay page has gone double amber some time today with the Heb Isles going on the SY freight run. I’d have thought they would have posted that information earlier if it had always been the plan.
        If Lord of the Isles is also going to dry dock at the same time as Loch Seaforth, they’ll be struggling for a few weeks.

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        Murdoch MacKenzie October 22, 2016 5:43 pm Reply
        • From reading the winter timetables it would appear that the LOTI is going to be away from 9th Nov. During the 3 weeks from that date the relief ferry will go to Oban instead of Mallaig.
          In the initial notice about changes to the Lewis Freight they give times for Sunday night. They now give notice that it will not run tomorrow for operational reasons, which probably means the delays being experienced in repairing the Isle of Arran.
          They know that they can cover Barra with extending the Mallaig service to Barra and doing night runs from Oban with Clansman if push comes to shove.
          Someone will need to write a book about the Isle of Arran’s troubles.

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          Murdoch MacKenzie October 22, 2016 8:39 pm Reply
      • For Nigel MacLeod: given the current ‘pause’ in this website’s customary wide coverage, the way in which the discussion under this particular topic has spread to cover all things Calmac is surely not in the slightest bit surprising – and if particular issues arise concerning Islay service provision I’m sure that people will be keen to add their comments.
        For myself, I’d be really interested to hear the reasons for the recent ‘crash landing’ at Lochmaddy, and to see whether lessons can be learnt, given that there was what appears to have been a similar incident at Kennacraig not that long ago and it’s surely reasonable to assume that lessons were learnt then.

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        Robert Wakeham October 22, 2016 6:02 pm Reply
  • Calmac summer 2017 on the Oban-Craignure route either one or two vessels

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    Scott Smith October 22, 2016 5:33 pm Reply

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