Repairs to a ferry that provides a lifelife service has been delayed for the fourth time as the islands prepare to open to visitors.
The MV Loch Seaforth was taken off the Ullapool to Stornoway route for “major” engine repairs nearly a month ago.
Calmac had initially said the ferry would be out of action until “at least the end of April”, then later said it would be running again by May 4 as repairs had taken longer than expected.
A day later the state-owned ferry operator said that the vessel would be back by May 17 at the earliest.
However, specialist engineers carrying out final testing on the eight-year-old vessel discovered that further work is needed on one of the engine bearings.
Loch Seaforth is due to leave the James Watt Dock in Greenock on May 17 for two days of trials. The vessel is now expected to return to the route on May 21 at the earliest.
The MV Isle of Lewis has been taken off its route between Castlebay and Oban to support the Loch Seaforth run.
Disruption could cost tourism businesses £500,000
Meanwhile, the Ardrossan to Arran route, which is one of the busiest ferry services, will continue to be serviced by one vessel instead of two.
According to the Arran Recovery Group, the disruption of services at the start of the summer tourist season will cost the island more than £500,000 in lost business.
State-owned Calmac has been under fire following a series of breakdowns and setbacks leading to service cancellations and restrictions.
Managing director of Calmac, Robbie Drummond, said: “We will continue to keep all customers informed of updates and we are very grateful for their patience and understanding.
“Any change to services can be challenging for our customers and the communities we serve, and we apologise for the disruption this will cause.”