UPDATE: Freight ferry out of service due to ghost fishing gear

The freight ship Helliar has been taken out of service for “unscheduled” dry dock work to be carried out on a propeller – with some shop shelves already being left bare as a result.

A NorthLink spokeswoman said: “The issue has occurred from the Helliar picking up ghost fishing gear at the end of the year.

“That has since affected the vessel’s manoeuvrability so the decision was taken to place her in dry dock.

“We were keen to do that ahead of the peak summer and livestock season.”

The ferry operator said it was keen to have the work completed, and the Helliar returning back to service, by the end of next week.

The spokeswoman added: “It is unfortunate, but that is what happened and the consequence of the unscheduled dry dock.”

SIC transport chairwoman Moraig Lyall said she had spoken to NorthLink and was also informed about the issue being the result of the ship picking up fishing gear in a propeller last autumn and, while considered not serious at the time, the ship now required the damage to be dealt with.

The public is already seeing some shop shelves empty across the isles, and Tesco has put a notice in its store saying: “Due to issues with the freight boat service our product availability is impacted currently.

“We apologise for any inconvenience as this is outwith our control.”

A spokesman for Tesco said: “Our colleagues are working hard to keep the shelves of our Lerwick Superstore stocked and continue to receive regular deliveries. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, and anticipate that deliveries will return to normal next week.”

The remaining freight ship, the Hildasay, is expected to make freight shipments over the weekend.


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