FERRY operator Calmac has announced a further delay to the return of MV Hebridean Isles to regular service in the Scottish isles.

The company said the vessel must remain in dry dock in Troon while engineers work to repair a problem with its pitch propeller.

Calmac chief executive Robbie Drummond apologised to islanders for the delay, saying it would lead to “difficult decisions” over existing services.

MV Isle of Arran will remain on the Islay route, while the Ardrossan-Brodick route will continue to be served by MV Caledonian Isles and MV Alfred until July 27.

The delay means that the Campbeltown ferry service will remain cancelled until the same date at the earliest.

From June 30, MV Alfred will operate to the current published timetable and MV Isle of Arran bookings will be transferred to that vessel.

MV Alfred will continue to operate three return sailings Friday-Monday and two return sailings Tuesday-Thursday from June 30.

MV Lord of the Isles is expected to return to the Lochboisdale route as planned on July 1 when MV Finlaggan returns to the Islay route from annual maintenance.

Drummond said: “Ongoing work to MV Hebridean Isles has so far not fixed the issue and I am sorry that this has not yet been resolved.

“This delay is causing network-wide disruption and means that we must make difficult decisions regarding services once again.

“As we do not have a return to service date, we have had to plan service delivery around its continued absence using the vessels we have available.

“We will reassess these deployment plans as soon as we have a date of return for MV Hebridean Isles.”