The possibility of the Pentland Ferries catamaran ferry Pentalina joining the CalMac fleet is once again in the air today (Monday 6 February).
Pentalina is currently tied up alongside at Greenock, having been moved from the James Watt dock where she was being serviced, and where CalMac’s MV Isle of Lewis is now undergoing her annual upgrade.
A CalMac spokesperson has confirmed that the ferry operator is ‘actively looking’ at the possibility of chartering vessels to add options to the faltering fleet.
The suggestion that the Pentalina was high on the list of options was re-floated by Mull and Iona Ferry Committee (MIFC) on 1 February, when they reported plans in their monthly blog round-up at https://mullandionaferrycommittee.org/2023/02/01/medical-protocol-improvements-samso-system-and-more/
They noted that Pentland Ferries began advertising for new crew late in 2022, for operations which were defined only as being ‘in Scotland’ and said that ‘everything points to CalMac’ as the possible service operator.
MIFC’s spokesperson said: “We know first-hand that CalMac have been pressing Transport Scotland to approve chartering her, at least on a short-term basis.”
Pentland Ferries website shows short-term contract opportunities on unspecified vessels for a master, chief engineer and motorman, to work until the end of March 2023, with a possibility of contract extension beyond that date.
There was intense speculation about the use of Pentalina on CalMac routes in 2021, with berthing trials and briefings to local ferry committees.
At that time, according to MIFC, the plans were to deploy her to Mull in the winter and Arran in the summer but, following trade union intervention, Transport Scotland withdrew from the deal and the Loch Frisa was bought instead.
Pentalina was called back into service on the Pentland Firth crossing to Orkney, after Pentland Ferries’ new vessel, MV Alfred, ran aground and had to be taken away to Belfast for repairs.
Today a CalMac spokesperson said: "We are actively looking into the possibility of chartering vessels, and will announce any successful decision as soon as we possibly can."
The pictures show the Isle of Lewis and the Pentalina together in Oban on 29 January (Iain McPherson/Calmac ferries friends) and Pentalina tied up in Greenock yesterday (George Griffiths/MarineTraffic.com).