Scotland's ferry crisis: How much longer must our islands suffer the CalMac corrosion? – Brian Wilson

The latest development in problems faced by west coast ferry services should not go unnoticed, though it is difficult for domestic issues to compete for headlines in these troubled times.

The ferry service linking South Uist to the mainland has been withdrawn for another month (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)
The ferry service linking South Uist to the mainland has been withdrawn for another month (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

One stalwart of Caledonian MacBrayne’s ageing fleet, the MV Clansman, has been found to have extensive corrosion to its steel work which will have to be replaced to meet safety standards. The Clansman is 24 years old and should be heading for well-earned retirement.

That is impossible because CalMac does not have enough vessels. The company has had to shuffle the fleet yet again with knock-on effects across the network, including complete withdrawal of the service linking South Uist to the mainland for another month. Imagine if something comparable happened on the mainland?

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There is absolutely no end in sight while the two unfinished ferries languish in the Ferguson yard at Port Glasgow – another Nicola Sturgeon photo opportunity that went badly wrong, as the meter ticks towards the £300 million mark.

It has been claimed – without denial – that the former Transport Minister, Graeme Dey, quit after eight months following a run-in with the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, when he was bearer of unwelcome news that an extra billion is needed to bring the CalMac fleet up to scratch.

It is a complete shambles which demands a full-scale inquiry and urgent remedial action. This is not mainly about politics or a gross failure of government. It is about fragile island communities and the economic and social damage being inflicted upon them.

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