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Transport / Skerries ferry likely to be out of action until June

The Skerries ferry Filla. Photo: Shetland News

IT LOOKS like it may only be June before the Skerries ferry Filla is back in service, with the vessel needing a new engine.

Part of the issue regarding the timeline is that the fault means the Filla’s scheduled trip to dry dock will be missed, and has been pushed back.

The ferry was taken out of service at the tail end of February after significant damage to one of her two engines.

There were no passengers on board at the time, and at no time were crew at risk.

A spokesperson for the council confirmed to Shetland News this week: “Following her recent breakdown, MV Filla requires a replacement engine.

“The vessel had been due to go to Fraserburgh for annual maintenance in April.

“This time in drydock will now be delayed until the new engine is replaced, and she is expected to be back in service in early June.”

In the meantime, the Skerries route is being covered by the Whalsay ferry Hendra, and the relief vessel Fivla will step in from April onwards.

In a report to councillors this week the Fivla had been described as a “spare” vessel – but North Isles member Duncan Anderson said this is not really the case anymore given it regularly needs to step in to cover.

“Since there are 11 vessels and they all need an annual docking, the Fivla isn’t really a ‘spare’ vessel,” he said.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to keep the service running.”

At Monday’s environment and transport committee meeting another North Isles member, Robert Thomson, questioned if the council had looked into augmenting the fleet given the current constraints, and described the service as “fragile”.

It comes as the Yell ferry Daggri is also in scheduled dry dock.

Infrastructure director John Smith told the meeting that there were ferries of interest in the Faroe and Åland islands but these were ultimately not available.

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