The announcement that CalMac had cancelled almost every ferry service to Lochboisdale in South Uist in June, due to continuing problems with its ageing fleet, led to an estimated 500 people, 200 cars, 40 vans and 20 lorries converged on Lochboisdale in a protest on Sunday 4 June.

Hebridean Isles was expected to return to the Islay route this weekend but instead it will be in dry dock as its ‘pitch control issues’ continue.

Meanwhile, Finlaggan will leave its Islay route for an overdue service. It means there will be reduced capacity on the Islay route and the Lochboisdale service will not run from 3-30 June.

Disruption to the route earlier this year led to claims that it was having a worse economic impact on the islands than the Covid lockdowns.

Robert Morrison, operations director for CalMac, said:

‘This was an extremely difficult decision and I understand that this will be disruptive for the local community and for customers who had planned to use this route.

‘I apologise for the effect that this cancellation will have and can assure customers that we are working hard to get vessels back in service.’

CalMac said it was also investigating the possibility of putting on additional sailings on the Sound of Barra and on the Little Minch to support displaced traffic.

‘Based on the Route Prioritisation Process, this would impact the least number of customers. This offers displaced Lochboisdale customers, who can use alternative routes for travel, connections via the Sound of Barra and Castlebay, or Lochmaddy, where space allows,’ the firm added.

Photo = Finlaggan passing in front of Viking Venus on her fifth visit out of the eleven expected over the season. The tug is the 1995 built Fidra, the longest serving of the original Forth Estuary Towage’s fleet. Photo by William McGeachy

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