Mainland ferry services for Barra face cancellations and disruptions for the rest of week with the designated vessel suddenly withdrawn from service following a serious engine problem.
The MV Isle of Lewis has been despatched to a repair yard in Greenock where engineers are desperately trying to repair a broken oil cooler.
A replacement part apparently cannot be found so a new unit needs to be manufactured but will not be ready until sometime next week.
As a stop gap, a repair will be attempted on the existing unit and, if successful, should allow the vessel back into service this weekend.
In the meantime, the MV Clansman is being drafted in to try and cover the Oban to Barra route though this will have adverse consequences for her own voyages to the Inner Hebrides, particularly Colonsay.
It is understood Cal Mac will devise contingency timetables on a day-to-day basis.
The same fault in April resulted in a lengthy period of travel chaos for Barra though local businesses praised Cal Mac for trying its best and providing a level of service.
Last night (Tues) the crew of the small inter-island ferry, MV Loch Alainn, undertook a special run between Eriskay and Ardmhor, Barra, so passengers arriving off the Mallaig to Lochboisdale sea link would not be stranded in South Uist.
A Cal Mac spokesman said: “A technical issue has unfortunately taken the MV isle of Lewis out of service until at least the end of the week.
“We are currently looking at long term fix for this and are working hard to get the vessel back in service as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime an amended timetable will operate using the MV Clansman on the Oban – Barra route, passengers should check the website and social media for updates.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”