A RELIEF vessel has been chartered for ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne.
Pentland Ferries’s craft MV Alfred is joining the fleet for nine months following an extensive search of the second-hand market for a vessel that could provide resilience.
It’s expected that the ferry will be available to CalMac from 18 April.
CalMac is currently working on deployment plans — MV Alfred can only serve on a limited number of routes and, because of its design, cannot operate to the current timetable.
Berthing trials will require to be completed before the vessel enters service.
CalMac is chartering the vessel from owner Pentland Ferries with £9million funding provided by Transport Scotland, cover berthing dues, fuel, commercial charter rate and other costs.
Pentland Ferries will be responsible for delivery of the service on behalf of CalMac and will retain full operational, technical and safety management of the vessel, including maintenance, repair, overhaul and provision of crew.
The primary focus for the use of MV Alfred will be to have her available for resilience purposes and provide relief benefits across the network. which should help mitigate the impact of disruption or where certain islands are reduced to single vessel service.
Robbie Drummond, CalMac’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted that on completion of berthing trials MV Alfred will be joining the CalMac fleet, and her addition will provide much-needed resilience.
“While her design means that she can only operate to some ports, having this extra vessel will help support the rest of the fleet during times of annual maintenance or disruption.”
MV Alfred has a carrying capacity of 98 veheicles and 230 passengers
CalMac say most deployment options may require some form of ramp modifications
The vessel is ‘single-ended’ so a turnaround time of approximately 45 minutes is needed.
The plan is to base MV Alfred at Campbeltown to avoid disruption at already constrained ports and allowing easy repositioning.