Thursday, May 2, 2013

Freight and Passenger Ferry Breakdown Means Replacement Compromise

NorthLink Ship Should be Back in Service This Month
Shipping News Feature

UK – Ships, like trucks and, even occasionally aeroplanes, break down but when the vessel is a ferry and the lifeline for a system of scattered islands the situation can rapidly turn into a serious incident. Yesterday saw Serco NorthLink Ferries searching around desperately trying to replace its damaged freight and passenger ferry the MV Hamnavoe which was making her way on her one good engine to Babcock Rosyth to repair a broken crankshaft.

The company reportedly called upon Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) which owns a fleet of thirty ferries trading in Scottish waters but by this morning the company had brought in its own freight vessel, the MV Heliar, to operate on the route between Orkney and Caithness. The matter is not as simple as it sounds and work is under way to allow a suitable berth to be used for a service to Scrabster which currently sees services to Stromness (the Pentland Firth route) cancelled until the 24th May when the Hamnavoe should be back in service. Stuart Garrett, managing director at Serco NorthLink Ferries, said:

“We are pleased that we have managed to secure a suitable location to repair the MV Hamnavoe at short notice. We are disappointed and again apologise that we have had to withdraw the ferry from service, however this was an unforeseen and unpreventable technical failure. It is important to stress that despite our ferry being unavailable that Orkney is very much open to business and tourists. There are a number of alternative ways to get to Orkney, including our service from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, Pentland Ferries from Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope, the John O’Groats ferry from Burwick to John O Groats and flights with Flybe to a range of Scottish and other UK destinations.

“Serco NorthLink Ferries is working with other transport operators to help passengers with alternative travel arrangements. We are providing courtesy travel between our ferry operations and those of Pentland Ferries. We are communicating directly with all passengers holding a booking during this period. We are contacting passengers as quickly as possible, starting with those with bookings in the immediate future. Passengers can also call NorthLink Ferries on 0845 6000449 if they require further information.”