The NorthLink cargo boat Helliar is expected to be out of action for up to a week after her propeller became wound up between Aberdeen and Orkney at the weekend.
The vessel developed a problem with one of her engines on the way north on Saturday, continuing at reduced speed and arriving at Kirkwall nine hours late. She continued on to Lerwick where she arrived at 9pm on Sunday, around 12 hours behind schedule.
The situation has further compounded NorthLink’s problems with only one passenger ferry running between Shetland and Aberdeen due to the current drydocking schedule.
The ferry company said today that the problem was caused by a rope becoming entangled in the Helliar‘s propeller. Divers had cleared the obstruction but the boat might have to go into drydock to assess potential damage to her propeller shaft mechanism.
Managing director Bill Davidson apologised to customers, saying the circumstances were entirely outwith NorthLink’s control. But the firm was acutely aware of how important the sea links were to islanders, he added, and in particular the commercial customers who used the services to get their goods to market.
NorthLink has announced a proposed modified timetable for the next few week, which means some calls to Kirkwall have been dropped. During that time the other cargo ship, the Hildasay, will operate alongside the remaining passenger ferry Hrossey.
Monday: Hrossey (Lerwick-Aberdeen); Hildasay (Aberdeen-Lerwick).
Tuesday: Hrossey (Aberdeen-Lerwick); Hildasay (Lerwick-Kirkwall-Aberdeen).
Wednesday: Hrossey (Lerwick-Kirkwall-Aberdeen); Hildasay (Aberdeen-Lerwick).
Thursday: Hrossey (Aberdeen-Kirkwall-Lerwick); Hildasay (Lerwick-Aberdeen).
Friday: Hrossey (Lerwick-Kirkwall-Aberdeen); Hildasay (Aberdeen-Kirkwall-Lerwick).
Saturday: Hrossey (no service); Hildasay (no service).
Sunday: Hrossey (Aberdeen-Kirkwall-Lerwick); Hildasay (Lerwick-Aberdeen).