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09/08/2016

MV Hebridean Isles returns to Islay

MV Hebridean Isles returns to Islay 

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has confirmed that repairs to the MV Hebridean Isles have been completed and she currently en route to Islay. She is due to arrive later today (Tuesday, August 9) and will enter service as soon as practicable.

Plans to operate the MV Finlaggan overnight to accommodate freight traffic will continue for the rest of the week but, subject to the MV Hebridean Isles arriving in time, the MV Isle of Arran will not be required to leave her usual route in Arran.

Operations Director Drew Collier said: "A huge and ongoing amount of effort has been made by everyone across CalMac to minimise the impact of the loss of the MV Hebridean Isles which regrettably took longer to resolve than hoped. 

"From port and customer contact centre staff who have directly assisted 1000s of passengers in the last two weeks, to the technical and operations staff who sourced the replacement vessel and worked night and day to get the repairs completed and the crews who have undertaken extra sailings and managed the loading of vehicles and passengers, every single one has pulled out all of the stops to keep Islay's ferry service going, and at the same time manage our network at the busiest time of year.

"We are particularly grateful to those customers, including local hauliers, who have amended their plans to help us manage our way through this very difficult period. 

"It is important to stress that the fleet is operating at full utilisation and we do not have  the additional vessels available to provide cover without disrupting services elsewhere in our network. There is no easy or quick solution with damage as significant as this one and planning for rare accidents such as this is not simple. There is also no escaping the fact that our ageing ships and ports mean that despite our best endeavours, future breakdowns and the periodic loss of vessels from our services is unavoidable. 

"In the meantime however, our customers, and the communities which rely on our services, can be assured that we are working hard to keep the fleet sailing, including a rigorous programme of maintenance and investment in upgrading the technology and systems on board, much of which is becoming obsolete and difficult to repair. At the same time we continue to scour the market for replacement tonnage, but as most people know we operate a fairly bespoke fleet, operating in challenging ports and harbours. 

"Our options will improve as new ships join the fleet over the next few years but in the meantime we are confident we are making the best use of the vessels available to us to minimise disruption to our customers."

The latest service information is available at www.calmac.co.uk

ends

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