Ferry services between Ullapool and Stornoway were disrupted when Caledonian MacBrayne’s Loch Seaforth lost power just over an hour into the 10.30am sailing from Ullapool on 8 August with 343 passengers and crew on board.
The problem was with the main engine cooling systems. Limited power was achieved from one engine allowing the ship to continue its journey to Stornoway with RNLI lifeboats from Stornoway and Lochinver escorting her into Stornoway Bay.
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan welcomed news that the Loch Seaforth was quickly repaired and back in service, but regretted delays while repairs were carried out. “This episode gives a stark illustration of just how quickly a serious situation can develop when the fleet is stretched to the very limit during peak season,” he said.
The CalMac fleet has been under severe pressure due to breakdowns and two chronically delayed ferries ordered from the Ferguson yard in Port Glasgow. The UK’s first LNG-powered ferry, the 102.4m Glen Sannox, will not now enter service on the Ardrossan-Brodick service to the Isle of Arran until August 2019. Originally due in service this year, technical issues with the design of the ship initially pushed delivery back to the spring of 2019.