The passenger and freight vessel Pentalina is today (Monday 14 June) continuing trials on CalMac’s west coast routes, as the ferry company looks into options for greater fleet resilience.
Politicians and public bodies have been calling for the use of the MV Pentalina, originally commissioned by Pentland Ferries and now used as a back-up vessel for their Pentland Sound crossing, throughout the challenging period of breakdowns to both MV Loch Seaforth and MV Isle of Lewis (as well as a number of smaller vessels).
Now CalMac says they have spent the weekend investigating the twin-hulled ferry’s suitability by conducting berthing trials on routes including the Brodick Ardrossan route served the Caledonian Isles ferry.
But they are making no promises on chartering the vessel until the trials are complete.
Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: "CalMac has said that it would welcome any new tonnage to the fleet, as long as it was safe and suitable for our routes.
"We are currently working with Transport Scotland to investigate the feasibility of leasing the MV Pentalina catamaran from Pentland Ferries to provide additional resilience across the network.
"This weekend, MV Pentalina has been visiting some ports across our network to conduct berthing trials as part of this process, and no decisions will be made on any charter until those trials are complete."
And there is an aspect which CalMac does not mention…Pentalina is not a ro-ro ferry…it's only got one vehicle access ramp…so drivers would have to reverse on to it…which might provide some with an unexpected challenge.
Pictures show the MV Pentalina’s current position on Brodick pier (Monday 12 noon, Marinetraffic.com) and an image from this morning as she passed MV Caledonian Isles (Hugh Boag Arran Banner).