Passengers in lifeboats as Orkney ferry runs aground in the Pentland Firth

More than 80 passengers have been rescued from a ferry which ran aground in the Pentland Firth.

Pentland Ferries said the MV Alfred grounded on the island of Swona at about 2pm on Tuesday during a crossing between Gills Bay and St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney. The vessel had 82 passengers onboard who were forced to take to lifeboats.

A spokesman for the company said the ship is now back in the water and is being escorted back to St Margaret’s Hope.

Passengers had already been transferred to the lifeboats before the ship was refloated,” the spokesman said.

“They are also being transferred to St Margaret’s Hope. An ambulance is on standby to deal with potential injuries. The safety of passengers is, of course, our first priority.

“A further statement will be issued, as soon as we have more information.”

The £14 million MV Alfred was shown off for the first time in ahead of its launch at a ceremony in Kirkwall in October 2019.

The Vietnamese-built vessel sails the routes between St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney and Gills Bay, near John O'Groats, in Caithness.

Aground: Passengers were put into lifeboats after the MV Alfred 'came ashore' on Orkney run

MV Alfred can accommodate 430 passengers, nearly one quarter more than its predecessor's 350.

It can carry 98 cars, or 54 cars and 12 articulated vehicles/coaches.

The vessel is named after the father of Pentland Ferries owner and managing director Andrew Banks.

The ship is the cleanest and greenest ferry of its kind, with over 60% less fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than similar ferries serving the Scottish islands.

MV Alfred was built in Vung Tao, Vietnam at the Strategic Marine shipyard. It is an 85m catamaran designed by BMT Nigel Gee. Work commenced in April 2017 when the keel laying ceremony took place.

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