Sunday, 26 March 2023

CalMac Charters Pentland MV Alfred to Assist in Ferry Shortage

MV Alfred is to join the CalMac fleet on the west coast network, which has been hit by shipbuilding delays and ferry breakdowns with their ancient fleet.

The Scottish government has given £9m for Pentland Ferries to loan the firm the MV Alfred for nine months.

Pentland Ferries has announced that the MV Pentalina will return to serve the Pentland Firth route for a nine-month period commencing 18 April 2023, while the MV Alfred is on charter to CalMac Ferries. 
Pentland Ferries will operate and deliver services with the MV Alfred on behalf of CalMac Ferries on the Clyde and Hebrides Network, subject to successful berthing trials.

Two overdue CalMac ferries being built at the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow have been delayed further, which prompted backlash from islanders.

The Glen Sannox, which will serve the island, will now not be completed at Ferguson Marine shipyard until the autumn, rather than May of this year.

Glen Sannox, returning to Ferguson shipyard after work in dry dock earlier this month

A second ferry, known as Hull 802, had been due for hand over in March 2024 but will be delayed to later that year.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said "persistent design gaps and build errors" meant progress had been "slower than planned" for the Glen Sannox.

He also announced an additional £6m would be allocated to help complete the two ferries.

That was on top of the £15m of extra funding for the Ferguson Marine shipyard already provided by the Scottish government this financial year.

The ferries are already five years behind schedule, with the cost of the project three times more than the original £97m budget.

Ms Campbell also expressed her anger that £87,000 in bonuses had been paid to six senior managers at the nationalised shipyard between 2019 and 2022, despite a failure to hand over the vessels.

CalMac's existing ferry fleet is ageing and the need for regular maintenance and repairs has caused disruption for travel to and from the mainland.

 Some four ferries remain sidelined to passengers due to technical problems.

It has emerged that 25-year-old MV Clansman which was delayed from entering service after the ferry operator identified newly steelwork corrosion during its overhaul, now remains out of service because of a starboard engine issue.
"We have a near 40-year-old boat, half the size of our usual vessel operating on the route, placing extreme limits on what comes and goes to Arran," Ms Campbell added.

In December 2022 The MV Lord of the Isles linking Mallaig and Lochboisdale on South Uist was originally undergoing repairs on its steelwork.

MV Lord of the Isles has been in service service with CalMac since 1989

However, CalMac had to announce that some sailings would be limited due to problems with the radar issues, restricting its operation in hours of darkness.

"There is a lot of anxiety, a lot of lost business, visitors are uncertain [about coming]."

MV Hebrides entered service in 2001 has also been affected by technical problems

The islanders are "very sceptical" whether the latest timetable outlined by Mr Swinney for delivering the Glen Sannox would be met.

"We're facing a real crisis on the island. Uncertainty, fear, anxiety."

In his statement to MSPs, Mr Swinney said he had expressed the government's "great disappointment" to the shipyard's chief executive, David Tydeman, about the latest delay.

He said the "challenges and legacy issues" faced by Fergusons could not be underestimated but that "substantial progress" had been made since Mr Tydeman's appointment last February.

Mr Tydeman had insisted that the Glen Sannox was "coming to life" following a successful spell in dry dock, with its main engines, propellers, generators and radar working, Mr Swinney said.

It was due to have a "sustained testing and sea trials period to help ensure a smooth entry into service later this year," he added, with the yard aiming to deliver both vessels sooner than the dates outlined.

The Ferguson shipyard in Inverclyde has been in public hands since 2019.