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Cancelled Sailings Continue on Scotland Route Due to Fault Discovered on Isle of Arran Ferry

23rd January 2024
Sailings continue to be cancelled on the Firth of Clyde route of Ardrossan-Brodick (Arran) as the oldest ferry in the CalMac fleet, the 1984 Clyde-built MV Isle of Arran was discovered with engine issues which is undergoing repairs. This afternoon an update will be provided at 2pm regarding the status of sailings.
Sailings continue to be cancelled on the Firth of Clyde route of Ardrossan-Brodick (Arran) as the oldest ferry in the CalMac fleet, the 1984 Clyde-built MV Isle of Arran was discovered with engine issues which is undergoing repairs. This afternoon an update will be provided at 2pm regarding the status of sailings. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

On the Firth of Clyde, ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) announced there will be no sailings between Ardrossan and Brodick, Isle of Arran today, 23 January.

Following Storm Isha, this time CalMac say the cancellations aren't down to the weather, reports the Ardrossan Herald.

Since Sunday lunchtime, there have been no sailings on the 55 minute route because of the Storm Isha and afterwards strong winds which forced the ferry operator to announce there would be no Ardrossan-Brodick sailings at all on Monday, see related 'Irish' berth story. 

On announcing the latest cancellations, CalMac have revealed that personnel took the opportunity to carry out some essential maintenance on the 40 year-old ferry, MV Isle of Arran, Afloat tracked to Brodick, where it was tied up due to the weather.

It was during the maintenance that a "technical fault" was discovered on the veteran vessel which was built in 1984 on the Clyde, at Ferguson Ailsa, Port Glasgow. Also on the Clyde, Afloat adds is the route’s main ferry, MV Caledonian Isles dating to 1993, which is undergoing routine annual overhaul in dry-dock at Dales Marine Services, Greenock.

As for the MV Isle of Arann, a problem was discovered with the main starboard engine which is now undergoing repair.

With all sailings on the route cancelled, there will be an update provided during this afternoon on whether services can resume.

A Calmac spokesperson said: "While carrying out essential maintenance during the recent weather cancellations, the vessel has reported a technical issue with the starboard main engine that now requires repairs to be carried out.

"As a result of the technical issue, combined with strong winds forecast on Tuesday afternoon, all sailings on this route are now cancelled."

"Plans are under way to source the required spare parts to carry out a full repair, and an update will be provided at 2pm regarding sailings on Wednesday, January 24."

This is the latest issue to hit the ferry service in recent weeks, for more on the story, click here.

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!