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CalMac confirms delay to MV Caledonian Isles return to service

CalMac has confirmed that one of its older vessels, MV Caledonian Isles, is now estimated to be delayed by approximately 16 weeks in annual overhaul.

CalMac received clarification from the dry dock operator on the initial scope of significant steel renewal and repair required on the 31-year-old vessel on the afternoon of Wednesday 21 February. An estimated cost of the repairs is in the region of £5m. To carry these repairs out, the auxiliary and main engines will need to be removed from the vessel to allow suitable access to the double bottom water ballast tank tops. These repairs need to be done in a planned, coordinated manner rather than all at the same time to maintain the vessel's structural integrity.

Work has commenced at the yard to assess the scope of work and CalMac has launched assessments of the impact of not having the MV Caledonian Isles in service for the start of the summer timetables and will publish revised deployment plans by Monday 4 March.

Every vessel in CalMac's fleet is subject to annual overhaul. Surveys of the vessels' structures are completed continuously in preparation for the annual overhaul period. Scopes of work for each vessel are planned around the outcome of these surveys. However, there are limitations to what these surveys can detect.

Numerous surveys have been completed on MV Caledonian Isles during her life and every year works are completed to CalMac's satisfaction and that of the Classification Society. This year, the need for a significant level of steelwork has emerged during the overhaul process. Working with the repair yard, Class, Flag, and independent specialists, a carefully defined plan will be developed for repairs on a staggered basis.

Robbie Drummond, CalMac Chief Executive, said: "We know this news will cause concern and frustration for communities across the whole network, and we apologise for this.

"Our team will be working exceptionally hard over the coming days to assess every eventuality in terms of vessel deployment, with a view to minimising disruption for the communities and customers we serve. We will do the best we can in these circumstances, but it is unavoidable that there will be a knock-on effect on other routes on the network.

"MV Caledonian Isles has served North Ayrshire with distinction for over three decades, but like any ageing vessel the scope of work required in annual overhaul is likely to grow each year.

"Over a third of our vessels are now operating beyond their average life expectancy, and we invested record levels in annual maintenance in 2023.

"We are stretched to the absolute limit in terms of network deployment already, and the arrival of six major and 10 small vessels in the coming years will provide much-needed resilience and reliability to the service."

MV Caledonian Isles entered annual overhaul on 4 January, and she has always served the Isle of Arran, operating between Ardrossan and Brodick.

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