CalMac have confirmed that the chartered catamaran MV Alfred will run for a six-month extension, providing additional resources through the winter and annual overhaul period.
The charter will now be in place until August 21, 2024, with deployment plans set to be confirmed as soon as possible, the ferry operator said.
The vessel, which is owned by Pentland Ferries, joined the CalMac fleet to support MV Caledonian Isles earlier this year following months of problems and cancellations on the Arran to Ardrossan route.
CalMac said that it is working closely with owners Pentland Ferries to expedite a ramp modification solution to improve the interface at Campbeltown and Troon when Alfred is deployed on Islay.
Islay deployment will be restricted to operating to and from Ardrossan until these modifications are complete and customers will be informed as these modifications progress.
Options to improve catering options for customers, when the vessel is deployed on Islay due to the extended passage time, are also being explored.
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 have confirmed which ports she can operate out of and plans for her next deployment are now underway.
“Everyone at CalMac remains committed to providing our communities with the best possible service.”
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.”
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