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Transport Minister Gives Assurances on Ferry Provision to Orkney

The response of the RNLI, the emergency services and the crew of the Pentalina in their quick response to the grounding of the ferry has been praised by Scotland’s Transport Minister, Kevin Stewart

The Minister confirmed that he had met with leaders of Orkney islands Council on Sunday 30th of May to discuss the situation which occurred on Saturday night when smoke was detected in the engine room. In the incident no one was harmed and all were safely transported by lifeboat to the shore.

In responding to a question raised by Orkney Constituency MSP, Liam McArthur, LibDem, Kevin Stewart reported that NorthLink Ferries proactively contacted hauliers at the time of the incident to ensure that essential goods could be delivered to Orkney. The Minister thanked the company for their prompt actions.

Head and shoulders shot of the Minister of Transport Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart continued:

“We await detail from Pentland Ferries on the length of any outage. Transport Scotland met NorthLink over the weekend to discuss what increases in capacity may be needed on services to Orkney. We also await the outcome of any investigation and actions to prevent any reoccurrence, and we need those answers as soon as possible.

“NorthLink Ferries has been proactive in reaching out to hauliers, and it is monitoring the capacity that is available across its routes.

“Since Monday, there have been three return trips daily from Scrabster to Stromness, and we will continue to engage with NorthLink ferries on other options that may be available. We will also keep in close contact with Orkney Islands Council about the issues.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, we will consider moving towards a fourth return service to ensure that Orkney islanders are served well”

Kevin Stewart refuted Liam MacArthur’s allegations that the Pentalina had been rushed back into service and that pressure had been put on the  Maritime and Coastguard Agency to do so. The MCA is an Executive Agency of the UK Department for Transport (DfT). It produces legislation and guidance and provides certification to ships and seafarers. It is a UK Government organisation as is the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), and not within the powers of the Scottish Government.

The Minister could not say whether the MV Alfred would return to serve Orkney.

He said:

“The terms and conditions of the charter of MV Alfred are a commercial matter between CalMac and Pentland Ferries. There is no recall clause in the terms of the contract, which was a commercial decision made by Pentland Ferries as part of its discussions with CalMac. However, as I have said previously, I and the Government will continue to monitor all that as we go forward, to ensure that the Orkney Islands are well served.”

Pentland Ferries also thanked all those involved for their prompt actions on Saturday.

“We are very grateful for the prompt action, support and assistance of HM Coastguard Services, RNLI, Police, Ambulance and Fire and Rescue Services when the MV Pentalina grounded on Saturday night. Our thanks also goes to Cromarty Hall, Maynes Coaches, Robertsons, Leask Marine, Orkney Local Emergency Coordination Group and, of course, the crew of the Pentalina and our shoreside team. We also very much appreciate all the messages and emails of support. Thank you.”

The Pentlina ferry sailing off Hoxa Head

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