Probe begins on ferry grounding in Scotland’s Pentland Firth

Pentland Ferries' Ro-Pax ferry Alfred, seen here shortly following completion in Vietnam in 2019 (Photo: Pentland Ferries)

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has begun efforts to identify the events that led to a passenger vessel grounding incident in the Pentland Firth near Scotland’s Orkney Islands earlier this year.

The vessel in question is the UK-registered catamaran Ro-Pax ferry Alfred, which ran aground on uninhabited Swona Island while carrying 84 passengers on July 5.

The incident occurred while the 85-metre-long vessel was on a scheduled voyage from the mainland to St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney.

The grounding damaged the ferry’s port bow. One person who was on board suffered injuries and was later brought to hospital.

The vessel was successfully refloated within hours, enabling it to sail to St Margaret’s Hope under its own power later that same day.

Alfred was then taken out of service to undergo repairs in Northern Ireland. The repairs were completed within five weeks, allowing the vessel to resume operational sailings in early August.

The MAIB had earlier conducted preliminary inquiries within hours of the grounding. It has only recently issued a list of its current investigations, thus confirming that the incident is now being formally scrutinised.

Alfred is owned by local private operator Pentland Ferries. The vessel was delivered in 2019 following completion at a shipyard in Vietnam.

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