CalMac has confirmed that moving freight to and from the islands is ‘a priority’, even without the availability of the MV Loch Seaforth, now undergoing investigation and repairs in a shipyard at Greenock.
The company hopes to continue a temporary freight service beyond the current timetable proposed between now and Wednesday, as island businesses wrestle with logistics around the failure of the network’s largest and most modern vessel.
Robert Morrison, operations director for CalMac, said: "Getting freight moving to and from the island has been a priority since the Loch Seaforth was taken out of service, and we have been working non-stop to find a solution.
"Losing a major vessel is frustrating for everyone and it is vital to have her repaired and returned to service as soon as possible."
A night freight service returned to the Stornoway-Ullapool ferry route with an additional service on Saturday evening (17 April), after the temporary suspension of a full freight service due to the MV Loch Seaforth being removed from service.
The MV Isle of Lewis has begun the night service, which is expected to continue until Wednesday 21 of April. CalMac said the continuation of this timetable beyond Wednesday would be confirmed as soon as possible.
The Loch Seaforth is at Dales Marine’s James Watt dock in Greenock where specialist engineers will complete necessary repairs. A full investigation into the cause will also be carried out.
In a statement released late on Friday, the ferry company said: “CalMac is continuing to engage directly with the key businesses affected by the removal of the Loch Seaforth, and they are being kept updated about all developments. Alternative connections are also available via Uig-Tarbert.
“While the possibility of temporarily hiring other vessels has been investigated, no suitable options are available for use at this time.”
Passengers looking to make bookings for the Ullapool-Stornoway service are being advised to regularly check service updates, CalMac social media channels, and the website for the latest advice.
The freight service timetable until Wednesday is: Depart Stornoway 10.30pm, arrive Ullapool 1.15am. Depart Ullapool 3am, arrive Stornoway 5.45am.
Picture shows freight being unloaded from MV Hebrides in Tarbert on Friday afternoon.