Hope-stricken islands as CalMac in talks to charter MV Pentalina

You want to know more ?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7 days a week access to our website, as well as a full digital copy of the week’s newspaper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device. Plus, your subscription includes access to digital archival copies from 2006.

Just want to read a number? No problem, you can subscribe for just one week (or more if you wish).

Connection problems and need
technical support? Click here

Subscribe now

CalMac has made “positive progress” chartering the MV Pentalina catamaran as it struggles to maintain vital ferry services with an aging and failing fleet, according to The Oban Times.

With ferry breakdowns and disruption on the rise this year, many island communities such as Mull, the Western Isles and Arran have asked the Scottish Government to buy or hire the MV Pentalina, run by Pentland Ferries for Orkney.

CalMac, the national ferry operator, is making progress with its offer to hire the roll-on roll-off vehicle and passenger vessel, which can accommodate 58 cars and 350 passengers, but the move is still subject to government review Scottish.

The Islay Community Council Ferry Committee met with CalMac and Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government’s transport agency, on Tuesday August 16, and updated Islay Community Councilors later Thursday: ‘Calmac/Transport Scotland are investigating the possibility of obtaining ‘Pentalina’ to add to the fleet, and possibly provide freight service from Port Askaig to Troon.

Speaking to the Oban Times on Thursday, Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: ‘We need additionality in the CalMac fleet. If we had 801 and 802, which we should have now, we would have had more resilience.

“We are not there, and by next May it will be very difficult. Therefore, as Minister, I have focused on finding the additional tonnage to cover us during this period. In terms of vessels specific, I am unable to provide comment due to business decisions.

In March, a fresh appeal was made to Scottish ministers to reconsider the MV Pentalina catamaran as a way to ease the ferry crisis in the west of Scotland.

Arran Ferry Action Group has endorsed its purchase and called for urgent action to make it happen. However, the purchase of the MV Pentalina was ruled out by Transport Scotland, who said the vessel was too old to buy, but they did not rule out a charter.

After the MV Hebrides hit Lochmaddy Pier in May, leaving the Uists without a single CalMac ferry to the mainland, the Western Isles Council urgently appealed to the Scottish Government to charter the catamaran.

Mull and Iona Ferry Committee last month renewed calls for the purchase of the MV Pentalina, after the MV Hebrides’ firefighting system failed twice in a week, again canceling services from Skye to the Hebrides and reducing capacity on Islay and Mull, which each lost a ferry as a backup vessel.

In a letter to CalMac Managing and Operations Directors, Transport Scotland, Transport Minister and Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto, the Islands Ferries Committee said: “We are appalled that CMAL continues to refuse the purchase of the Pentalina in such desperate circumstances. .’

CMAL, or Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, is the nationwide owner of CalMac’s ferries and ports and is responsible for acquiring new vessels.

Reacting to this week’s news, Mull and Iona Ferry committee chairman Joe Reade said: ‘We very much hope that this time the negotiations will conclude successfully.’

“We almost had the Pentalina in the fleet a year ago, but the RMT objected to the non-union Pentland Ferries crew working on a CalMac route. It was a shameful episode and a great example of RMT taking the lead at the expense of the islanders.

“Whether powered by Pentland Ferries or CalMac, island communities desperately need the Pentalina.”

Comments are closed.