The linkspan at Lochboisdale Ferry Terminal will be closed on Saturday 24 September after the 05:45 ferry for two weeks for essential work to replace wire lifting ropes.
CalMac Ferries Ltd are urgently reviewing alternative service options for sailings to Lochmaddy during the closure period, from either Mallaig or Uig, subject to successful berthing trials being completed, and will confirm early next week.
Preliminary works will be undertaken on-site from 17 September, although this will be planned to minimise any effect on port operations and ferry services.
A routine annual inspection by specialist engineers and Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), which owns the ferry terminal, has revealed a number of lifting ropes on the linkspan need to be replaced at the earliest opportunity. Last year’s inspections showed no issues.
Loading restrictions have been in place since 16 August in response to these inspection findings. Loading capacity was reduced to 44 tonnes, a standard road-going truck, preventing abnormal and heavy loads using the linkspans.
Monitoring and testing will be conducted this week by specialist inspectors ahead of the replacement work to ensure safe ongoing operation, it is not anticipated that this will affect the services. Further weekly tests and daily visual inspections will be conducted but will not affect the ferry service.
Morven Bridges, head of engineering at CMAL, said:
“This is a safety concern and requires a swift response to replace the lifting ropes. Unfortunately, it means we must close the linkspan, impacting ferry services.
“In the run-up to the closure, to ensure the continued safe operation of the linkspan with the new loading restrictions, we will be conducting regular monitoring, tests and inspections, with support from CalMac’s port team.
“We understand islanders will be concerned about the impact on lifeline ferry services. We are working closely with CalMac and our contractor to minimise disruption as far as possible and certainly to ensure there is no delay in the replacement work programme and the linkspan returns to service no later than Saturday 8 October.”
Lifting ropes on the linkspan at Castlebay Ferry Terminal also need to be replaced, although mitigation measures in place will allow safe ongoing operation for a longer period. Dates for the replacement work will be identified by CMAL but will not coincide with the closure of Lochboisdale.
For alternative services, please head to the CalMac website here.