MV Alfred to continue operating on CalMac routes as charter extended for further 6 months
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The ferry MV Alfred will not return to the Caithness-Orkney route until at least next summer after a deal was made to continue its charter on the west coast.
Operator Pentland Ferries brought back the MV Pentalina to operate its Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope route when the new £14 million MV Alfred was loaned to the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network.
CalMac will now continue the deal – which was originally worth £9 million over nine months – for a further six months, extending the charter to the end of July 2024.
CalMac will confirm details of the MV Alfred’s deployment in due course but, with the return of the Hebridean Isles to service, it is expected that she will operate as a resilience vessel and also assist with vessel overhaul cover where required.
Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: “An agreement has been reached with Pentland Ferries to extend the charter for the MV Alfred for a further six months. This will help maintain resilience on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network during the winter months and into the summer.
“The MV Alfred can operate on a number of routes on the network and allows other vessels to be moved to minimise any disruption if necessary.
“The Scottish Government is committed to improving our lifeline ferry services and better meeting the needs of island communities. We will continue to look at options to support the CHFS network ahead of the six new vessels currently under construction joining the fleet by 2026.”
Robbie Drummond, CalMac’s chief executive, said: “We very much welcome the extension of the charter of MV Alfred for a further six months. The vessel has been a valuable addition to the CalMac fleet and has provided much-needed resilience on the main Arran route while MV Hebridean Isles was off service for an extended period.
“Recent berthing trials has confirmed which ports she can operate out of and plans for her next deployment are now under way.
“Everyone at CalMac remains committed to providing our communities with the best possible service.”
The £14 million Alfred replaced the Pentalina on the Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope route in October 2019.