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Pentland Ferries to resume sailings on Thursday using MV Pentalina


By Alan Hendry

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MV Pentalina sailing past Stroma on a crossing from Gills to South Ronaldsay in May 2019. Picture: Alan Hendry
MV Pentalina sailing past Stroma on a crossing from Gills to South Ronaldsay in May 2019. Picture: Alan Hendry

Ferry services between Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney are due to resume on Thursday, just over a fortnight after the MV Alfred ran aground on Swona.

Pentland Ferries will be using the MV Pentalina, according to an updated statement on the company's website.

All sailings on the route were suspended up to and including Wednesday, July 20, following the grounding of MV Alfred on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 5. The Pentalina will return to service at 7.45am on Thursday, July 21, from St Margaret’s Hope.

A previous statement indicated that Pentland Ferries had hoped to bring back sailings by Monday of this week.

The website message tells passengers: "If you were booked to travel from July 18 to 20 (inclusive), we will be contacting you by phone. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience."

The £14 million Alfred – which replaced the Pentalina on the route in 2019 – suffered impact damage when it went aground on Swona in calm conditions.

The Orkney-bound catamaran had 84 passengers and 13 crew on board at the time. Pentland Ferries said the situation on board remained calm but confirmed that "a few passengers" sustained injuries.

An initial inspection revealed that the Alfred's port bulbous bow had sustained impact damage when it made contact with the uninhabited island.

While the port bow was grounded, the remainder of the ship remained afloat. After it was confirmed that no water was coming in, the ship was floated off unaided and made its way to St Margaret’s Hope under its own engine power.

Longhope and Thurso RNLI crews were at the scene.

Forty-five passengers, including young children, were transferred to St Margaret’s Hope on the Longhope lifeboat before the Alfred was refloated within about an hour and a half.

Lifeboat crews arrived on July 5 to find the MV Alfred aground on Swona. Picture: Longhope RNLI
Lifeboat crews arrived on July 5 to find the MV Alfred aground on Swona. Picture: Longhope RNLI

The ship was escorted to the South Ronaldsay ferry port by tugs and the two lifeboats.

Pentland Ferries' managing director Helen Inkster emphasised that the company's first priority was the safety of passengers and. She said crew members were quick to implement safety procedures.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch sent a team to St Margaret’s Hope in the aftermath of the grounding and will be issuing an update once its preliminary assessment is complete.

Pentland Ferries has been invited to comment and to indicate when the Alfred is likely to return to service.

Built in Vietnam, the Alfred can accommodate 430 passengers and 98 cars, or 54 cars and 12 articulated vehicles/coaches.


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