SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, welcomed the update circulated on Tuesday by CalMac which sees all Western Isles routes keep their own vessels for the duration of the summer timetable, minus the potential cascading of vessels during MV Finlaggan’s overhaul.

Throughout last week, CalMac undertook consultation with local communities on three main deployment options under consideration for the summer timetable period, while MV Caledonian Isles is undergoing extensive steel repair works.

However, CalMac indicated in its announcement that it was exploring one further option, which would see MV Isle of Lewis being used on the Uig Triangle and MV Hebrides and MV Alfred being used in Arran.

Today in the chamber, the Western Isles’ MSP questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Transport on how vessels’ suitability for the Minch are assessed, and asked for reassurance that any vessel deployed on the Castlebay-Oban route in the event of Tuesday’s announced deployment plans being revised would be fully suitable for this most exposed of all the routes.

The Cabinet Secretary responded to say that while detailed deployment decisions were the responsibility of the operator, Scottish Ministers expect the operator to take into account the “capacity and capability of the vessels as part of that consideration”.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan said:

“The deployment decisions announced by CalMac on Tuesday were welcomed by Western Isles communities, maintaining capacity and suitable vessels across all of our routes. This showed that community feedback had been taken on board regarding the various options available to the operator while the major vessel fleet is depleted.

“However, should MV Isle of Lewis’s berthing trials on the Uig Triangle next week be successful, this could result in a completely different vessel cascade, and one which could be more detrimental to the Western Isles as we approach the busier summer months.

“It is imperative that any vessels deployed on Western Isles routes actually have the ability to sail reliably in waters that are far more exposed that routes on the inner isles, as well as having adequate capacity for expected traffic. MV Isle of Arran, for example, which was being consulted on as an option for the Castlebay-Oban route last week, is wholly unsuitable – something which was evident during her previous deployment on this stretch of water.”

You can view the full exchange between Alasdair and the Cabinet Secretary in the chamber this afternoon here.

Twitter latest


Subscribe to Alasdair's mailing list

By ticking this box you confirm you would like to receive updates from Alasdair Allan MSP by

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.