Repairs to Caledonian MacBrayne’s stricken Rothesay-Wemyss Bay ferry, MV Bute, are now under way - although the company has made no definite prediction for the resumption of normal service.
The 2005-built vessel has been out of service since Sunday, September 16, and has been awaiting repair in Greenock for more than a week.
On seeking an update on MV Bute’s position, we were told by a CalMac spokesman: “There is a clutch fault caused by a rope becoming entangled in a propeller - in layman’s terms the damage is caused by the propeller coming to an abrupt stop but the engine continuing to run and the gears/clutch ‘caught’ in the middle.
“We have had to order replacement parts from Belgium and these, along with the specialist tools required to fit them, have taken far longer than we would have expected or liked.
“We’ve also had to bring in specialist engineers to carry out the repairs.
“The parts and engineers are now here and work is underway. We would hope that she would be ready to return to service towards the end of the week but can’t give a precise time or date at this stage.
“Customers can be assured we are doing everything we can to resolve this as speedily as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Caledonian MacBrayne’s spare vessel, MV Isle of Arran, carried out relief sailings on the Rothesay service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although the tight turnaround times in the scheduled timetable prevented her operating the normal ‘second ship’ roster on the route.
The vessel had been due to provide more off-peak services on Monday in addition to the one-ship service offered by the one remaining ‘resident’ vessel, MV Argyle, but bad weather kept her tied up in port - and indeed led to the entire service being suspended for several hours on Monday.
The 1984-built ‘Arran’ left Rothesay pier on Wednesday morning to return to lay-up at Rosneath in the Gareloch.
The single-ship timetable being operated by MV Argyle until her older sister is repaired is as follows.
Dep Rothesay: 0625, 0800, 0930, 1100, 1300, 1430, 1600, 1730 and 1900.
Dep Wemyss Bay: 0715, 0845, 1015, 1200, 1345, 1515, 1645, 1815 and 1945.