CalMac has announced that another ferry will now take on the Ullapool-Stornoway route due the MV Alfred being too big for the port.
Now the operator has confirmed that MV Arrow will takeover the route from November 3.
MV Alfred, which has been charted at the cost of £9 million for 9 months, is currently out of action after having broken down for the second time in a month.
Gearbox issues spotted on the boat at the end of September originally led to cancellations to and from Arran, while repairs were undertaken for three weeks.
The incident led to delays in sea trials on the route to Stornoway to confirm that it can be used to cover when MV Loch Seaforth goes for its annual overhaul.
The plans to provide freight services between Ullapool and Stornoway have taken another a step back, after the Scottish Government controlled ferry operator has reported that the vessel cannot fit on the port’s linkspan.
MV Alfred is now out of service due to an issue with her thruster that needs repairs to be undertaken.
CalMac operated MV Alfred ferry unable to fit Stornoway Port
However, CalMac Ferries have confirmed to the P&J that another vessel will take over the route while MV Alfred is out of action.
A CalMac spokeswoman said: “As a result of MV Alfred trials at Stornoway being unsuccessful for scheduled service due to fit on the linkspan, the vessel is unavailable for timetabled freight service on the Stornoway-Ullapool route.”
The spokesperson continued: “In addition, MV Alfred has reported an issue with her thruster which requires a repair to be carried out. MV Alfred will take over service from MV Caledonian Isles on Saturday 4 November, which will allow MV Caledonian Isles to carry out network berthing trials.
“MV Hebridean Isles will undertake the Stornoway-Ullapool freight service until 2 November when MV Arrow will take over. MV Hebridean Isles deployment after 2 November has yet to be confirmed and will be announced as soon as possible.”
MV Alfred not ‘specifically chartered’ for this route
The operator went on to explain that berthing trials are “standard throughout a vessel’s work” and the Stornoway trial for MV Alfred outcome was not unexpected.
Robbie Drummond, chief executive of CalMac, said: “From our side, it was still worth testing to gauge if the vessel might fit, as it would have provided additional options if she had fitted there.
“For wider background for those that are unfamiliar, berthing trials are carried out at every port for every potential vessel and also take place following any port changes or upgrades.
“MV Alfred has been doing berthing trials across the network since it was received by CalMac. This is a pre-requisite before any deployment of a vessel to a route for safety reasons.
“Through this latest trial, we were looking at the possibility of using MV Alfred for freight cover on the Stornoway route – she was not specifically chartered for this purpose.
“CalMac is committed to serving island and rural communities and businesses with the best possible service and we take this responsibility very seriously.”
MV Alfred ferry: An expensive rental
MV Alfred ferry, which is owned by Pentland Ferries, was chartered to Caledonian MacBrayne for nine months in March this year.
The Scottish Government announced the charter of the vessel for nine months to supplement the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet.
The charter has a cost of £9 million, costing taxpayers £1 million per month.