CalMac considers bringing Isle of Arran to Bute

Caledonian MacBrayne’s spare ferry will undergo berthing trials at Rothesay later this week as the company looks at ways of plugging the gap caused by a breakdown on MV Bute.

The Rothesay-Wemyss Bay service has been maintained by MV Argyle since an engine fault developed on her sister ship on Sunday afternoon.

On asking how long repairs to MV Bute might take, we were told by a CalMac spokesperson: “We are currently unsure of the timescales for MV Bute repairs as we are awaiting delivery of spare parts, so are are looking into deploying MV Isle of Arran to provide additional capacity.

“We are coping with traffic at the moment, although we fully accept the situation is not ideal and we will need assistance if we have a busy weekend.

“MV Isle of Arran will undergo berthing trials later this week at Rothesay and we should have a timetable in place shortly after that.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are grateful for customers’ patience.”

The one-ship service operating on Monday and Tuesday of this week has seen departures from Rothesay at 0625, 0800, 0930, 1100, 1300, 1430, 1600, 1730 and 1900, with sailings from Wemyss Bay at 0715, 0845, 1015, 1200, 1345, 1515, 1645, 1815 and the last departure at 1945.

Launched from Ferguson’s yard in Port Glasgow in 1984, MV Isle of Arran has been employed as a general relief vessel throughout CalMac’s major routes in the last few years, but has never been used on the Rothesay service.

She did, however, berth at Wemyss Bay last winter during a spell on the Brodick-Ardrossan route, when weather conditions prevented the use of both the Ayrshire harbour and the normal ‘port of refuge’ at Gourock.