A case of all’s well that ends well… maybe!
The MV Alfred – on charter from Pentland Ferries – failed berthing tests at Stornoway on Tuesday so the Hebridean Isles will remain on the route meantime.
Stornoway haulier David Wood told the Gazette: “To be honest, it’s probably better for us, though it certainly wasn’t planned. The Hebridean Isles is smaller and is doing two trips a night and that is better for us than the one that the Alfred was going to be doing.
“And it’s certainly better than a couple of weeks ago, when it looked as if they had no vessels at all”.
The Hebridean Isles had been out of action for nine months due to recurrent problems with its rudder and propellors. She returned to sea trials in mid-October after a repair bill reported to have run to £2.5 million.
In a statement to the Gazette on Wednesday, a CalMac spokeswoman said: “As a result of berthing trials conducted yesterday, initial indications are that MV Alfred will not be able to operate on the Stornoway – Ullapool route.
"“Therefore, MV Hebridean Isles will require to remain on this route to cover the overnight freight service until the arrival of MV Arrow.”
“MV Alfred will now conduct berthing trials at Tarbert, Harris ,and Lochmaddy, before any decisions are taken regarding her next deployment, which will be confirmed later this week. MV Hebridean Isles’s deployment once MV Arrow takes over on the route will be announced as soon as possible”.
After the Hebridean Isles was brought back into service, CalMac chief executive Robbie Drummond said: “Our maintenance costs have soared in recent years and investment has never been higher as we await six major and 10 smaller vessels coming into service. Thanks to the large number of partners who supported our work to bring MV Hebridean Isles, and the work of our world-leading maritime and engineering CalMac team, we are pleased to see this major vessel back.”