Emergency £1m-a-month relief ferry sets sail after weeks of delays

The charter was due to begin on April 18 but was delayed due to a fault with its hydraulic systems.

Scottish Government’s emergency £9m relief ferry for CalMac MV Alfred begins Arran service after delay Transport Scotland

A catamaran, chartered by CalMac for £9m, to ease the strain on Arran’s ferry link has set sail on Friday after weeks of delays.

In March 2023, the Scottish Government announced that it had chartered MV Alfred from Pentland Ferries for nine months to supplement their west coast service costing £9m.

The charter was due to begin on April 18 but was delayed due to a fault with its hydraulic systems before it could take to the water.

Following successful completion of berthing trials, CalMac announced on Thursday that the vessel would finally commence service.

It will now carry passengers between Ardrossan and Brodick on a “turn up and go basis” as part of a two-week trial to determine whether it is a viable vessel for the route, CalMac said.

However, the firm said technical issues with the vessel’s starboard thruster found in berthing trials meant it was unable to sail to Port Askaig at this current time.

CalMac added that Pentland Ferries continue to work on mitigations to resolve this.  

MV Alfred’s first sailing between Ardrossan on the North Ayrshire coast and Brodick on Arran was at 11.05am on Friday, May 12.

Chief executive Robbie Drummond said: “We very much welcome the introduction into service of MV Alfred and the resilience that she will offer.

“Her addition should mitigate the impact of disruption or when certain islands are reduced to single vessel service.”

He added: “The main route to and from Arran has been operating with one vessel for some time, so the addition of MV Alfred will provide much-needed support to the local community.”