MV Hebrides will proceed to dry dock in Greenock
Caledonian MacBrayne's vessel MV Hebrides, which was involved in an incident at Lochmaddy harbour on Sunday (September 25) due to a mechanical failure, will proceed to dry dock in Greenock for repairs.
The ferry sustained damage to the starboard propeller shaft after chains from Lochmaddy Marina's pontoon became entangled during the incident.
Diving inspections indicate that there has been some low-level hull damage amounting to non-serious bumps and abrasions, which could be expected from contact with the seabed - the hull is intact and there is no water ingress.
It is hoped that, weather permitting, MV Hebrides will shortly begin the journey to Greenock under her own power - forecasts, however, have warned of severe gales. For safety considerations, the journey will be done in stages and it is planned that she will enter dry dock at Greenock at the end of the week.
Assuming MV Hebrides has been able to begin her journey as planned, MV Lord of the Isles (LOTI) will reposition to Uig on Skye. It is currently planned that LOTI will make two return journeys on Thursday and three returns on Friday and Saturday, boosting capacity for the Uists, as the journey time between Lochmaddy and Uig is considerably shorter than that of Lochboisdale to Mallaig. These arrangements will continue up to and including Saturday (October 1). Passengers who would normally travel from Tarbert, Harris to Uig are being kindly requested to use the Stornoway to Ullapool route. The overnight freight service on MV Loch Seaforth on the Stornoway to Ullapool route is also being made available to all customers.
Due to forecast bad weather tomorrow (Wednesday September 28), LOTI will make only a single return journey departing Lochboisdale at 0630, arriving Mallaig 1000, before departing again for South Uist at 1015, arriving at 1345.
As per above provisos, LOTI's Thursday timetable is:
Depart Lochboisdale 1100
Arrive Uig 1415
Depart Uig 1445
Arrive Lochmaddy 1640
Depart Lochmaddy 1710
Arrive Uig 1905
Depart Uig 1930
Arrive Lochmaddy 2125
The additional sailing on the Sound of Harris run will continue until Saturday (October 1), leaving Berneray at 0945 and Leverburgh at 1055.
Details of Friday and Saturday timetables, as well as any further contingencies and timetabling from Sunday onwards will be made available in further updates in due course.
"We are aware that our customers are experiencing significant inconvenience during this time and we apologise for this," said Drew Collier, CalMac's Operations Director. "Our priority is to safely move Hebrides to Greenock for repairs at the earliest available weather window and to ensure that our passengers are well-informed about the contingencies we have put in place and able to plan with a degree of certainty. The weather, however, is a variable beyond our control and there may be further amendments.
"We have been consulting with hauliers to see whether the movement of non-urgent loads can be delayed, allowing us to increase other vehicle capacity and we appreciate their help in this. We understand the situation is frustrating and also that our plans will impact other areas of the network. Please be assured, though, that these plans are being pulled together with all factors being taken into consideration."
The company continues to advise passengers to regularly check for the latest details and timetable updates on the CalMac website at www.calmac.co.uk and also to seek updates on its social media channels.