CalMac has revealed its annual overhaul schedule which will increase by three weeks, as the ferry operator continues to utilise its aging fleet.
Last year, vessels spent a total of 647 days in dry dock undergoing maintenance, however, this year that total will increase to 668 days.
The ferry operator says this is to “reduce risk of in-service breakdowns”, as they continue to rely on an ever-increasingly aging fleet.
All CalMac vessels are due to go in for maintenance at some point, meaning many routes will have alternative ferries for specific periods.
Passengers travelling between Skye and the Outer Hebrides will also have to deal with the closure of the Uig Harbour due to end on December 12.
Schedule increased due to unforeseen delays last year
Pauline Blackshaw, director of Strategy and Change, said: “The annual overhaul programme ensures that our vessels are as resilient as possible to cope with the challenging waters of the west coast.
“This winter, multiple vessels will be required to cover single routes, which will lead to challenges across the network.”
Ms Blackshaw also noted that emergency repairs cropped up during scheduled maintenance work last year leading to delays, resulting in the operator extending the schedule.
She added: “We understand that customers may be anxious about this happening again, in which case, we will stay in close contact with them to ensure that they are kept up to date about developments.”
Some key routes that will be affected include:
- Uig – Lochmaddy/Tarbet: MV Clansman will take over from MV Hebrides between February 12 and March 8.
- Ullapool – Stornoway: MV Loch Seaforth will take over from the MV Isle of Lewis from November 15 until March 28. It will also operate the freight service for the same period.
- Oban/Mallaig – Lochboisdale: MV Isle of Mull and MV Hebridean Isles will take over from the MV Lord of the Isles between January 3 and March 10.
- Oban – Craignure: Services will operate between the MV Loch Frisa, MV Isle of Mull and MV Isle of Arran through until March 28.
- Oban – Coll/Tiree/Colonsay: MV Lord of the Isles will take over from the MV Clansman between January 4 and March 8.
- Oban – Castlebay: MV Isle of Lewis will take over from the MV Isle of Mull from November 17 until February 3 and again from February 29 until March 28.
The Oban – Small Isles route will be operated by the MV Lochnevis throughout the winter period.
MV Alfred is currently scheduled to go for its annual overhaul from February 19 until March 4.
To find out more about specific routes and how that might affect you visit the CalMac website.