The island of Barra is facing more reasons for concern about ferry disruption, as MV Isle of Lewis is due to head for her scheduled annual service this weekend.
CalMac has already warned of timetable disruption from Thursday (January 23) as Oban linkspan no.2 is removed from service for 10 days as part of a preventative maintenance programme of works.
During the maintenance period, Oban will be using only linkspan no.1, bringing a need for amendments to schedules on some sailings. Sailings will be running earlier between Friday 24 January and Friday 31 January – the complete revised timetable is available here.
That disruption coincides with MV Isle of Lewis’s three-week annual upgrade period, which begins on Saturday 25 January. She’s due to return to the Castlebay – Oban run on or just after Sunday 16 February.
While she’s off, her service is set to be covered by MV Hebridean Isles, launched in 1986 and formerly one of the vessels serving the Uig triangle route. She now predominantly serves the Kennacraig and Islay route, but is also used as a replacement vessel elsewhere in the network.
At 3040 tons and 85.2 metres long she is considerably smaller than the Isle of Lewis, leading to worries about her capabilities on a long crossing in winter weather. During the annual service for Hebridean Isles herself, in November and December, unforeseen technical issues delayed her return to service.
The picture shows MV Isle of Lewis during an unscheduled visit to dry dock in Greenock for repairs last year. (Iain McPherson)