CalMac faced a new headache on the Uig triangle ferry route, with a new delay this morning (Thursday September 20th) keeping the ferry away from the berth in Uig, Skye.

MV Hebrides left Lochmaddy late this morning due to the stormy weather, and arrived in Uig to find the berth obstructed by fish-farm debris following the storm.

The vessel waited while a fish-farm vessel cleared the debris from the water.

The ferry service between Uig and Tarbert  resumed this afternoon, with the stricken cargo vessel Fame moved off the pier.

The Hebrides is now (4pm Thursday) refuelling at Uig Pier and will follow an emergency timetable - Depart Uig: 17:00 (delayed 14:00 Uig-Lochmaddy)
Arrive Lochmaddy: 18:45; Depart Lochmaddy: 19:10 (delayed 16:15 Lochmaddy-Uig). Arrive Uig: 20:55  Depart Uig: 21:20 (delayed 18:30 Uig-Tarbert)
Arrive Tarbert: 23:00

It’s understood that Maritime Coastguard Agency and insurance inspectors are currently in Tarbert and will give permission for the damaged vessel to move off the pier to allow the passenger ferry in.

Fame will then return to the CalMac pier to discharge the remainder of her cargo, before setting out for Stornoway, where she will undergo more permanent repairs.

The Norwegian-registered vessel Fame went aground in East Loch Tarbert early on Sunday morning, damaging her hull and rapidly taking on water. She’s been berthed at Tarbert’s ferry pier since then, undergoing temporary repairs.

CalMac services have been running between Uig and Stornoway to serve passengers heading for Harris, while the Tarbert pier remained unavailable to ferry traffic.

Meanwhile, at the recent meeting of the CalMac Community Board in Mallaig disappointment and frustration was reported from all parts of the network at the continuing delays in the delivery of the overdue vessels under construction.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), and Transport Scotland both made presentations on how they function within the present system to plan and prioritise vessel and port improvements and renewals. 

This was followed by a detailed presentation from the Communities Boards Operational sub group set up to identify areas of improvement that would support delivery of a better service. This comprehensive piece of work recommend a number of action point including the following

  • Better communication of incidents while acknowledging some recent improvements.
  • Review of the dry docking programme and schedule
  • Improvements to ticketing and booking system to provide more relative data
  • timetable discussions to be ongoing not just twice a year
  • Rationalisation of design of vessels and ports to maximise use of assets
  • Move to a new Ferries plan process that will include a 5,10 and 15 year build program backed by financial commitment.

The Board has also set up a communications sub group to cooperate with the company to further improve the communication between the company and communities. This group will also work on broadband provision issues.

Chairman of the Board, Angus Campbell said:  "‘We also committed to work with CalMac on school transport pricing, facilities at remote ports and continue to improve local content and employment.

‘The board recognises that all parties need to work together to bring the necessary improvements and are committed to inform and positively contribute to that process but stress the need for action now.’

Picture shows MV Hebrides leaving Stornoway for Uig earlier this week (Mark Nicolson).