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26/09/2016

Update following yesterday's incident with MV Hebrides in Lochmaddy

Caledonian MacBrayne is continuing to form contingency plans in the wake of an incident involving MV Hebrides at Lochmaddy on North Uist yesterday (Sunday September 25).

At approx 1105 yesterday, MV Hebrides was on a routine approach to Lochmaddy pier after travelling from Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. A technical failure led to an inability to decrease speed commensurate with the normal berthing procedure. The vessel struck pontoons at Lochmaddy Marina and made contact with rocks on the seabed as she came to a halt. No one was injured and the vessel berthed under her own power at the pier in Lochmaddy, where she remains alongside.

A team of divers is on site at Lochmaddy today and has begun thorough investigations of the hull below the waterline. Appropriate action will then be taken based on the outcome of these investigations. The company is also working with the Lochmaddy Marina owners regarding the damage to the pontoons.

Caledonian MacBrayne has an excellent safety record and incidents of this nature are incredibly rare. The company makes more then 135,000 individual sailings per annum, that is the equivalent of berthing or unberthing a vessel every five-10 minutes. Safety is the company's number one priority.

The company's MV Lord of the Isles is undertaking two return sailings today (Monday September 26) on the Lochboisdale, South Uist to Mallaig route, to ease some of the disruption and an additional return sailing was also added to the Berneray to Leverburgh, Isle of Harris route. This contingency timetable will continue unchanged tomorrow - see website for details. Passengers should note, however, that weather forecasts are predicting high winds during the next 48 hours, which is highly likely to cause disruption or cancellations. Further updates about services for the remainder of the week will follow as confirmed information becomes available.

Disruption to this route will continue for some time - with investigations still underway it is too early to accurately predict duration. The company is working closely with all appropriate authorities.

"Our teams are continuing to work directly with passengers affected in order to find the best solutions for them," said CalMac's Operations Director Drew Collier. "This was a very rare incident. We have a proud and excellent safety record, and I would like to assure all customers and the public as a whole that safety is the number one priority for the company. We thank people for their forbearance and understanding at this time."

Customers should continue to regularly check CalMac's website at www.calmac.co.uk and the company's social media channels for updates.

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