Grounding of passenger ferry in Pentland Firth under investigation

One man was taken to hospital and others were injured when MV Alfred ran aground on the unihabited island of Swona.

Investigation launched and sailings suspended after passenger ferry MV Alfred runs aground on Swona Pentland Ferries
MV Alfred has ran aground on Swona in the Pentland Firth.

Sailings on a passenger ferry which crashed on an uninhabited island off the North coast of Scotland have been suspended while an investigation into the incident gets under way.

More than 80 passengers and around a dozen crew were evacuated from MV Alfred by lifeboat when it ran aground on Swona in the Pentland Firth during an afternoon crossing between the mainland and South Ronaldsay on Tuesday.

One man was taken to hospital for treatment following the incident after the vessel was refloated and towed to its destination at St Margaret’s Hope.

Pentland Ferries, who operate the service, apologised to customers as it announced all bookings had been cancelled “up to and including” Sunday, July 10 while experts from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) probe the stranding.

In a statement, the firm said: “We regret to announce that all sailings have been suspended, up to and including Sunday 10 July, due to the grounding of MV Alfred yesterday.

“We are currently putting contingency plans in place to contact all those affected by the suspension of service.

“Meanwhile, if you are booked to travel during this period, your booking has been cancelled, and you will be refunded automatically. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.”

Investigators say they will recover evidence from the scene and assess damage to the vessel during the course of their probe.

RNLI lifeboats from Longhope and Thurso were immediately scrambled to the island shortly after 2.00pm on Tuesday to evacuate those on board.

While only one patient was transferred to hospital in Kirkwall, the company acknowledged there had been “more than one” injury alongside damage caused to vehicles on board.

The vessel, which can transport more than 400 passengers and almost 100 cars, entered service on the route in 2019.

A spokesperson for the MAIB said: “The MAIB is aware of the grounding of the ferry Alfred in the Pentland Firth on July 5, resulting in damage to the vessel, embarked vehicles and passenger injuries.

“A preliminary assessment of the accident has commenced; this will involve deploying a team of inspectors to assess the vessel and recovering evidence, in order to determine the next steps.”

They added: “The MAIB will update on its intentions once the preliminary assessment of the accident is complete.”