Local News for Friday 4th May 2018

Leverburgh lifeboat enters service
The new Shannon-class RNLI lifeboat has entered service at Leverburgh, after all the volunteer crew passed their training. RNLB Stella and Humfrey Berkeley 13-25 entered service at 5pm on Wednesday, less than two weeks after arriving in Leverburgh to a welcome from a huge crowd of local supporters. The new £2.2m Lifeboat was specially constructed in Poole, and will have her official naming ceremony on July 14th. She’s the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making her the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat yet, a feature which will be particularly beneficial when working in the challenging waters of the Sound of Harris. Furthermore, the Shannon is almost 50% faster than Leverburgh’s previous Mersey Class Lifeboat, RNLB The Royal Thames, with a top speed of 25 knots – a crucial factor when lives are at risk. Leverburgh RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Ross said: “We would like to pay particular thanks to all the RNLI trainers and assessors who have visited us over recent months, for their time and the wealth of knowledge they have brought with them. We would also like to thank our local coastguard helicopter teams for assisting us with our most recent training. It is a truly memorable occasion to have our new Shannon class Lifeboat go on service. The Mersey Class Lifeboat has served us well since the station’s establishment in 2012, but the arrival of the Shannon in Leverburgh brings a whole host of new, much more advanced, life-saving capability to our coasts.”

Clansman back – but more disruption looms
CalMac ferry MV Clansman has returned to service after extensive repairs to her propulsion system, but her return will not bring an end to timetable disruption on routes serving the islands. The Clansman now picks up services from Uig to Tarbert and Lochmaddy, allowing the MV Hebrides to enter dry dock overhaul. The Clansman will again return to dry dock for a short period in June for the replacement of its tailshaft, a key part of the vessel's propulsion system. Meanwhile services between Castlebay and Barra will run to an amended timetable on Saturdays and Sundays through May, to allow connections between South Uist and Oban. There is still no service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig, with an alternative service running between Lochboisdale and Oban. Full details of the timetable are on the service pages of CalMac’s website. CalMac’s managing director, Robbie Drummond, said: “Everyone in the company is working hard to getting a full fleet back in service by May 23rd and having the Clansman back is an important milestone towards achieving this. In the summer our fleet is fully deployed to meet the specified timetable, which means that there are no spare vessels to provide resilience in the event of a technical breakdown. The impact this loss has had on our communities is of deep regret to us.'

Work to start on island roads
Temporary disruption on island roads is expected from Monday, as the annual surface dressing programme begins in North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist. Work there is expected to continue for about two weeks before operations move to Harris for one week, then Lewis for three to four weeks. All works are weather-dependant, and drivers are advised to expect delays and to take note of warning signs and traffic management. The Comhairle apologizes in advance for any inconvenience caused.