SCOTLAND’S busiest ferry crossing has ground to a halt for safety reasons in a move that could lead to six weeks of disruption over a busy school holiday period.

Fifteen sailings between Brodick and Ardrossan have been cancelled since Sunday and the first sailings of tomorrow [Thursday] have already been dropped because of a fault with the ferry’s mooring equipment.

On Tuesday there were no sailings at all during the day, with the first seven journeys cancelled.

Only the 4.40pm sailing from Brodick and another to return to the island were able to operate as CalMac said it needed to berth on the island overnight.

The first sailings of tomorrow have already been dropped with no news of any further crossings expected till after a 10am review [Wednesday]. Travellers are being warned all services are liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.

CalMac said the issue is with the mooring winch gearbox which means the vessel is “unable to safely berth during periods of adverse weather”. Repairs are expected to take six weeks.

On top of that, a fault with both mezzanine decks, means the 1,000 passenger and 110 car capacity of the vessel will be cut until repairs can be carried out.

CalMac’s director of operations, Robert Morrison said: “An issue with the MV Caledonian isles mooring gearbox is likely to restrict her ability to berth in certain weather conditions which will lead to disruption while we source the required spare parts.

“We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

It comes as CalMac bosses have said the £300m ferries “shambles” at Ferguson Marine’s shipyard in Port Glasgow is causing knock-on ‘major disruption’ for island communities up and down the west coast of Scotland.