You may have seen CalMac’s latest summary of the ongoing breakdowns and dry-dock delays, which makes for some depressing reading. Both the Clansman and the Caledonian Isles have major engine problems; the Hebridean Isles has propeller problems and is heading to dry-dock; and the annual overhauls for the Hebrides, Finlaggan, and Loch Frisa are delayed.
We now know more of how this winter’s disastrous overhaul schedule will affect Mull. The Loch-Frisa-only service has been extended again, through until March 25th.
The MCA have allowed CalMac to use the Coruisk on routes outside the Clyde a little earlier than normal, starting on March 26th (Her certification normally only lets her leave the Clyde from April 1st). She will be making a return to the Craignure-Oban service to work alongside the Loch Frisa, because it is all but certain that the MV Isle of Mull will not be available to us until late April.
From March 26th we will have the Coruisk / Loch Frisa pairing, and that could be the case right through untill April 24th, when the Loch Frisa is now pencilled in for her own delayed overhaul. The Isle of Mull should be with us no later than April 24th in order to release the Frisa, or maybe a little earlier depending on how the dry-docking of other ships goes.
The timetable that the Coruisk / Frisa pair can operate may be a little different to that of the IOM/Frisa. We will be making some suggestions to optimise that.
The MV Isle of Mull is currently operating to Barra, and we have asked that options be explored to enable her to call in to Craignure as she passes, until the Coruisk is available. Berthing clashes and other operational issues will make that challenging, but CalMac have undertaken to see what can be done.
On the Lochaline-Fishnish service, the Lochinvar is away to dry-dock, and was to be replaced by the considerably smaller Loch Tarbert. But CalMac have responded to our concerns regarding that, and have instead deployed the larger Loch Bhrusda until the Lochinvar returns.
CalMac staff and Management are doing their best to provide a service with old and broken ferries. We have to recognise that the many causes of this crisis by-and-large lie elsewhere. An added frustration is that the Pentalina still lies in Belfast, idle but fully crewed and ready to enter the CalMac fleet. For some reason, her charter contract appears to remain unsigned.
Scroll down for a summary of what this winter’s timetable dates should have been, and what so far has happened.
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