I recognise the key role that ferry services play in supporting island and remote mainland communities such as those that Dr Allan represents. I appreciate the disruption that was experienced when the MV Isle of Lewis was recently removed from the Oban to Barra service for a three-day period due to a problem with its bow thruster exhaust system and the connection to the hull.
I am pleased to say that the vessel is now back in service. Caledonian MacBrayne is working with Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd—CMAL—to assess the scope of works that could be carried out at a future dry docking of the vessel, to ensure that those can be tackled proactively the next time that it is there. That may widen the scope for more preventative measures to be carried out in the future. We are looking at such measures to ensure that that situation is not repeated elsewhere in the fleet.
However, Dr Allan is absolutely right about looking at initiatives such as the purchase of spare parts, which is being done. Given that some vessels were built many years ago and parts for them are no longer available on the market, t he operator has been involved in commissioning production of replacements for what are thought to be obsolete parts, to ensure that they are in place in advance. It is working hard to ensure the availability of parts so that those that are most likely to fail can be replaced—and vessels returned to service—quickly.