A LIFELINE ferry is making its return after being out of service since Sunday due to cases of Covid among two crew members.
The move came after state ferry operator CalMac said crew members of the 28-year-old MV Caledonian Isles returned negative Covid test results.
CalMac said one of its larger ships had been thoroughly cleaned and was now able to return to the mainland to resume sailing on the Ardrossan-Arran crossing – one of the busiest in the lifeline network .
But he said due to the limited crew on board the ship, the ship will initially only be able to leave Brodick in cargo mode, which means it won’t take passengers.
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It will leave Brodick with commercial cargo and, upon arrival in Ardrossan, will collect all passengers.
It is assumed that more crews will board it and that a 3.20 pm service will become normal navigation for passengers.
One of CalMac’s oldest ships is also back, the 38-year-old MV Isle of Arran, which was withdrawn from Ardrossan service at Campbeltown to operate services normally provided by the Caledonian Islands on Sunday.
Repairs to the MV Isle of Arran’s bow visor seal were successfully completed and it is expected to be back in service at 12:30 p.m. from Ardrossan.
CalMac told customers on Tuesday that 14 services that were to be operated by the Isle of Arran on Wednesday had been canceled.
After the repairs, the state-owned ferry operator said it hopes to operate six services between 12:30 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.
As the Caledonian island was out of action, CalMac had encouraged so many to travel the non-bookable Lochranza on Arran to Claonaig, a hamlet on the east coast of the Kintyre Peninsula in western Scotland, as an alternative.
By road, this meant that those coming from Ardrossan made a 125-mile detour to and from Claonaig – a journey that would take around three hours. The ferry crossing from Ardrossan to Brodick usually only takes 35 minutes.
CalMac even advised travelers to schedule breaks on the Claonaig route.
The redeployment of the ferry from the Isle of Arran on Sunday resulted in the cancellation of all crossings between Ardrossan and Campbeltown.
Ferry operators have set up an alternate bus service for foot passengers affected by the cancellations to arrive in Campbeltown after three and a half hours and a 153 mile journey. At least 46 would have made the trip.
CalMac is currently paying a bill of Â£ 11,760 per day to charter an Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited emergency ferry, owned by the Isle of Man government, to help maintain transport services from passengers and cargo.
The MV Arrow was put into service to help relieve pressure on freight services between Stornoway’s passage from CalMac to Ullapool, but broke down on July 24 after running for only a week. Marine debris got tangled with a propeller and all sailing was abandoned until the end of the month.
Delivery of the new MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 island ferries, which were due to go live in the first half of 2018, are more than four years behind schedule, with costs doubling to over Â£ 200million. Glen Sannox was to support the road to Arran.