A FERRY serving one of Scotland’s most popular routes will be out of action for four months while £5 million of repairs are carried out, CalMac has announced.

The MV Caledonian Isles, which entered service in 1993, usually serves the Ardrossan to Brodick route, from the Ayrshire coast to Arran. 

But CalMac said that faults identified during its annual overhaul meant a return to service would be delayed by “approximately 16 weeks”.

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A statement from the ferry operator said: “CalMac received clarification from the dry dock operator on the initial scope of significant steel renewal and repair required on the 31-year-old vessel on the afternoon of Wednesday 21 February.

“An estimated cost of the repairs is in the region of £5m.

“To carry these repairs out, the auxiliary and main engines will need to be removed from the vessel to allow suitable access to the double bottom water ballast tank tops. These repairs need to be done in a planned, coordinated manner rather than all at the same time to maintain the vessel’s structural integrity.”

CalMac said it would publish revised plans for how the Arran routes would be serviced ahead of the start of high season on March 4.

All of the ferries CalMac runs are brought in for annual overhauls, which see the vessels’ structures checked. CalMac said the checks had revealed the MV Caledonian Isles needs a “significant level of steelwork”.

Robbie Drummond, the CalMac chief executive, said: “We know this news will cause concern and frustration for communities across the whole network, and we apologise for this.

“Our team will be working exceptionally hard over the coming days to assess every eventuality in terms of vessel deployment, with a view to minimising disruption for the communities and customers we serve. We will do the best we can in these circumstances, but it is unavoidable that there will be a knock-on effect on other routes on the network.

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“MV Caledonian Isles has served North Ayrshire with distinction for over three decades, but like any ageing vessel the scope of work required in annual overhaul is likely to grow each year.

“Over a third of our vessels are now operating beyond their average life expectancy, and we invested record levels in annual maintenance in 2023.

“We are stretched to the absolute limit in terms of network deployment already, and the arrival of six major and 10 small vessels in the coming years will provide much-needed resilience and reliability to the service.”