THE main Largs to Cumbrae ferry could be out of service until late May, according to Cunninghame North's MSP.

MV Loch Shira was withdrawn from service last week for repairs to both of its vehicle ramps.

And Kenneth Gibson says he understands it could be around six weeks before the ship is back in service.

He said "serious questions" had been raised, and hadn't been satisfactorily answered, over the impact of the heavy goods vehicles using the Cumbrae ferry on a regular basis as part of the Millport flood defence works.

Mr Gibson intervened as CalMac announced plans to redeploy other ferries in its fleet to provide a better service to and from Cumbrae than the one islanders have endured of late.

MV Isle of Cumbrae will join MV Loch Riddon on the route from Tuesday, April 9. 

From Friday, April 12, MV Isle of Cumbrae will be replaced by MV Loch Bhrusda, which is able to carry up to 18 cars and is being redeployed from Mallaig to provide cover.


A public meeting is to be held in Millport on Tuesday, April 9 to allow island residents, businesses and second home owners to discuss the problems that have hit the island's ferry service in recent weeks.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

MV Loch Shira was removed from service on Friday, April 5, with CalMac stating that "options for repair are being investigated".

Wait times of up to four hours for vehicles to cross from Largs, and three hours from Cumbrae, were reported on Monday afternoon, with CalMac advising "essential travel only" on the route or those with vehicles.

Mr Gibson said: "I understand that supply chain issues with the replacement parts needed for the MV Loch Shira’s ramps and cracked ramp hinges means that it is likely to be around six weeks before CalMac has the required parts needed to get the vessel back in service.

"The Cumbrae Ferry Committee has raised serious questions over recent months about vessel maintenance and the handling of heavy goods vehicle traffic from the flood defence work which was not acted on by CalMac who must now explain why the situation wasn’t addressed much earlier."

The latest update comes after the service being provided by MV Loch Riddon had to be suspended twice on Monday, April 8.

The first suspension was blamed on an oil spill from a vehicle on the vessel's car deck, and the second on a fuel pressure issue with the vessel itself.

In an update from CalMac, seen by the News, a spokesperson said: “We unfortunately suffered a hydraulic hose leak from a tractor and trailer.

"This stopped the tractor from departing the vessel until the trailer was removed and the hydraulic fluid cleared. Service was cancelled for approximately one hour and 30 minutes.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

“MV Isle of Cumbrae will complete service with the 4.30pm departing Portavadie today and then reposition to Largs to arrive approximately 9pm.

"They will commence service as the second vessel on Largs, supporting MV Loch Riddon, on Tuesday.

“To accommodate Cumbrae, the Tarbert to Portavadie service has been cancelled from the 5pm service today up to and including Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, we expect the cancellation to go up to Friday afternoon at least.

“MV Loch Bhrusda will be crewed from Wednesday and depart Mallaig to take over from MV Isle of Cumbrae on Friday afternoon.”

Tuesday night's public meeting takes place at Garrison House at 7pm and all members of the public are welcome.