A planned charter of an additional ferry on CalMac’s fleet is set to begin on Thursday after a safety certificate caused a delay.
MV Alfred, which is owned by Pentland Ferries, was set to join the CalMac fleet on a nine-month charter from April 18.
However a second vessel also owned by Pentland Ferries, the MV Pentalina, which was to cover her Pentland Firth route, did not have a safety certificate in place ahead of the planned charter.
CalMac announced on Tuesday that the MV Alfred was set to begin with the national ferry service on Thursday, April 27 after Pentland Ferries announced that the MV Pentalina will return to service on Wednesday morning.
CalMac will begin berthing trials with MV Alfred, as the vessel has never operated or completed berthing trials on any CalMac route, these are required before she is welcomed into the fleet.
Deployment plans will be confirmed as soon as these have been completed.
Ports expected to be visited by MV Alfred over the coming week to conduct these trials include Ullapool, Lochmaddy, Port Askaig on Islay, Campbeltown, Brodick, Ardrossan and Troon.
The vessel will also conduct trials at Ayr harbour to determine suitability as a lay by berth.
All going well it is expected that trials will be completed on April 30, with the vessel available for service thereafter.
Robbie Drummond, chief executive of CalMac, said: “I welcome the news from Pentland Ferries that MV Alfred will join us this week. Our primary focus will be to have her available for resilience purposes and provide relief benefits across the network. This should help mitigate the impact of disruption or where certain islands are reduced to single vessel service.
“Although resilience availability will remain the priority, there may be opportunities for MV Alfred to operate additional, non-bookable freight sailings, when possible, to support capacity constraints. This is most likely to be focused on freight operations at key pinch points on the network.
“We will continue to engage with network community representatives and commercial customers to discuss deployment options to support services across the network.”
Managing director of Pentland Ferries, Helen Inkster, added: “We are very pleased to confirm that the MV Pentalina is ready for service, which allows the MV Alfred to make her way to the west coast.
“We would like to thank all of our staff, crew and everyone who has been involved in successfully preparing the MV Pentalina for this next stage in her service.”