Life raft concerns disrupt Rothesay ferry service

MV Bute was taken out of service on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 for checks on her liferafts requested by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
MV Bute was taken out of service on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 for checks on her liferafts requested by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Concerns over the type of life raft used on CalMac’s two Rothesay ferries resulted in disruption to Bute’s main ferry link on Wednesday.

The company announced on Tuesday afternoon that for “technical reasons” an amended service would operate on the Wemyss Bay route on Wednesday, November 19.

One of the route’s two resident vessels, MV Bute, had to sail to the James Watt Dock in Greenock for attention - less than 48 hours after she came back into service following her annual overhaul.

By then her younger sister, MV Argyle, had already entered dry dock in Greenock for her own annual survey, leaving the route in the hands of the winter relief ferry, MV Coruisk.

MV Bute eventually came back into service with the 5.30pm sailing from Wemyss Bay on Wednesday.

A CalMac spokesperson said: “The MCA [Maritime and Coastguard Agency] advised that they had some concerns about the type of life raft which is fitted to both Bute and Argyle and asked that specific checks were carried out.

“We were able to do this with the Argyle in dry dock but had to take the Bute out of service.

“MCA have confirmed their concerns had been addressed and she was able to return to the route later in the day.”

There was no shortage of readers ready and willing to express their anger after we published news of the service disruption on our Facebook page: Nicola Claire Brown and Claire Leonard both called it an “absolute disgrace”, and Liz McKellar said islanders were “paying through the nose for a service we are not receiving...and to top it off CalMac get government money to provide the service”.

Mike Blair, however, a former Buteman reporter who commuted to work on the mainland for 36 years, suggested: “It’s hardly an absolute disgrace...it’s a mild inconvenience. Still a far more frequent service than during my daily commute.”