CalMac’s veteran ferry MV Isle of Lewis is back in the water at Aberdeen harbour as she nears the end of her annual overhaul.

But the ship, which serves the Oban-Castlebay lifeline service for Barra, will be late to return to service after a painstaking upgrade which has seen new pitch control systems among other innovations introduced.

In October last year CalMac announced that it would be investing a record amount in the winter maintenance programme, which requires that all 33 vessels in the fleet must be brought in for overhaul and maintenance.

CalMac's Director of Asset Management, Julie Philpott, said: “For those not involved in the refit process the sheer scale of the tasks involved is hard to picture. Last year we fitted more then 11km of electrical wiring and this year new CCTV networks and pitch control systems alone will see 18km of new cable installed.

“Some communities may lose their regular vessel for longer periods due to the scale of the work being carried out this winter. However, this additional time out of timetable will help support delivery of a more resilient service in the long term. Customers will be able to see meaningful improvements in service.”

The Isle of Lewis was due to be back at Castlebay today (Sunday 16 February) but is still alongside Aberdeen Harbour’s Commercial Quay. An amended timetable has been put in place for the Castlebay-Oban route on Tuesday and Wednesday to manage the delayed overhaul schedule, assuming services can run at all in the weather.

The picture shows MV Isle of Lewis beside the quay at Aberdeen on Friday (Lewis Mackenzie).