The new much-delayed ferry for the Outer Hebrides’ main route visited her home port for the first time at the weekend – but only for a short 15 minute pitstop.
The £42million MV Loch Seaforth was due to enter service on the Stornoway to Ullapool route in July but a start date for the ferry has still not been announced.
Pier work at Stornoway is not yet finished and islanders face six weeks without a car ferry on the route in the New Year because of major new works at Ullapool.
The MV Loch Seaforth made a short stopover in Stornoway Bay on Saturday.
A Cal Mac spokesman said the vessel was in the area “as part of crew familiarisation exercises. She was unable to berth on this occasion.”
The ferry is presently laid-up on the Clyde until the extension of Stornoway’s number three pier is completed. Civil engineers faced problems in strengthening the pier to handle robust berthing.
The new 380-feet roll on-roll off vehicle passenger ferry will be capable of operating 24 hours a day and will have a capacity for up to 700 passengers, and 143 cars or 20 commercial vehicles.
The new boat should go 10% faster than the ageing MV Isle of Lewis, which has been plagued by breakdowns and weather-hit cancellations over the 12 months.
But Western Isles councillors have been unconvinced about the new super ferry’s capacity and wrote to Transport Minister Keith Brown about their fears.