West coast travellers have suffered ferry disruption after one of Caledonian MacBrayne’s ships broke down.
The MV Clansman was withdrawn from service with an engine fault leaving the company short of vessels just as an influx of tourists head for the Hebridean islands.
The breakdown comes as CalMac struggles with an ageing fleet with two unfinished new-build boats stuck in the Ferguson Marine’s shipyard on the Clyde amid a bitter row over spiralling costs.
Sailings to Barra, South Uist, Mull, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay and Skye were cancelled, disrupted or diverted.
CalMac’s under pressure and aging fleet has been rejigged and timetables changed to cover for absence of the major vessel on a busy route.
Full service may not be restored until next week as repairs are taking longer than anticipated, it is understood.
The problem is connected to a damaged engine piston, it is believed, which resulted in her being laid up in Oban since last weekend.
MV Isle of Mull is covering Coll and Tiree which left her own high demand service to Mull with fewer sailings.
To cover the gap, MV Lord of the Isles’ daily service to Mallaig is cancelled.
Instead, the vessel is running from Lochboisdale to Oban where she is undertaking sailings to Mull before heading back to the Western Isles in the late afternoon.
On Saturday, she will dock in Craignure, Mull, first to pick up additional passengers before continuing to Oban.
Her Mallaig to Skye schedules were cancelled earlier in the week though the smaller MV Loch Bhrusda has now been brought in to assist.
Castlebay’s weekly open deck ferry service which carries hazardous goods such as bottled gas was cancelled.
In addition, MV Isle of Lewis now detours to Mull on her daily runs between Barra and the mainland.
Barra councillor Donald Manford said: “This is causing problems.”
A CalMac spokesman said: “A failure of one of the MV Clansman’s engines on May 26 while on passage from Oban to Tiree, required the vessel to return to the mainland.
“This has meant a temporary timetable being deployed to ensure that traffic continues to move to where it needs to go.
“We would like to apologise for any passengers inconvenienced by this disruption and would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while we work to get things back to normal.
“Engineers are currently working on the vessel and the temporary timetable will continue until we can confirm a return to service date.
“Passengers should check the website for the latest service updates.”