FERRY users were left stranded for hours without food and water after a technical hitch prevented the MV Loch Shira from leaving Largs.

The vessel, which recently returned from its annual maintenance check, suffered a ramp problem during the fiasco.

Local councillor Alex Gallagher branded the latest ferry breakdown as 'unacceptable' while Caledonian MacBrayne have now apologised to passengers.

The problem resulted in the 6.45pm service not running while the 7.15pm service was crippled by a delay of more than two hours - with passengers left on board with no explanation.

Cumbrae community councillor Crawford Gillan alerted the Largs and Millport Weekly News to the situation.

He said: "We were been sitting aboard the ferry for over two hours with no updates as to why.

"To add insult to injury there was a young family aboard with a six month old child and the call handling office was closed, so there was no information at all available."

Cal Mac responded to Crawford on the evening via Twitter to apologise.

Passengers praised the CalMac crew for working hard to get the problem fixed on the evening.

Island businessman Jensen Newton said: "To keep the Largs to Cumbrae service running through Storm Ciara was a feat in itself.

"It was due to staff's perseverance that my son, among others, were able to get home, albeit well after 9pm.

"Fair play to the crew - It's been a tough week for them."

Councillor Gallagher thought was less forgiving.

He said: "The latest ferry breakdown is unacceptable.

"The service of the ferry during Storm Ciara was commendable but this type of delay which happened to passengers last Wednesday evening because of a ramp problem - just after the latest maintenance check - is very disappointing.

"The local crew have done a terrific job and it is not their fault - it is the fault of the Scottish Government and the company if the ships are not fit for purpose.

"With the ferry fiasco involving the new Arran ferry at Ferguson's shipyard, there really should be a review of the ferry service in Scotland."

The problem on the evening was a clevis eye failure - a type of bolt fastening - which meant the ramp could not be raised using the vessels hydraulics and had to be done manually.

CalMac’s Area Manager (Clyde) Tommy Gore said: "We would like to apologise.

"The vessel’s crew worked incredibly hard to get back on service and we’re looking to get the ramp repaired as soon as possible."