Operator CalMac scoffed at claims of a dramatic ‘crash’ into the structure at Brodick on the Isle of Arran and insisted that no passenger or crew member suffered any injuries in the very low speed incident.
Easter holiday weekend services on the high-demand crossings from Ardrossan to the Firth of Clyde holiday and day-tripper destination were disrupted following the problem on the 29-year-old Caledonian Isles on Sunday morning.
CalMac, which is Scottish Government controlled, denied suggestions that anyone had been hurt and maintained the vessel suffered only minor cosmetic damage to its paintwork. The pier suffered no damage.
The ferry, which has capacity for 1000 passengers and 110 cars, suffered the loss of its main port engine as it prepared to tie-up at Brodick following its 9,45am departure from Ardrossan.
CalMac said the Caledonian Isles was now being taken to Troon for repairs.
A spokeswoman stated: “MV Caledonian Isles experienced a fault with the port main engine on Sunday morning and plans are being made to take her to Troon for repairs. She is expected to be out of service for a period of time and we will provide an update on Friday regarding this.
“Due to tidal restrictions, MV Isle of Arran will be unable to start service until 09:45 on Wednesday morning; she will then operate four return trips to Ardrossan before carrying out a further sailing to Ardrossan where she will berth overnight. She will then pick up service from Ardrossan on Thursday morning, operating to MV Caledonian Isles timetable. MV Catriona is operating a shuttle service on the Lochranza/Claonaig route, with MV Loch Riddon joining her from Largs tomorrow.
“We appreciate that this is a busy holiday period and we are doing all that we can to help passengers complete their journeys. Disrupting a sailing is a decision we do not take lightly, and we apologise to our customers and communities.”
She confirmed that a fault had ‘required the engine to be emergency stopped’, and added: “Whilst manoeuvring back alongside with one engine, the vessel made light contact with the harbour wall which resulted in minor cosmetic damage to the ship. Whilst there has been a problem with the engine room access hatch, there have been no related injuries.
“CalMac takes operational safety very seriously and the circumstances surrounding the incident will be investigated. Engineers are working hard to resolve the engine issue and traffic on impacted sailings will be prioritised where possible.”
The disruption is another blow to CalMac after a series of ferry failures and repairs delays has left the transport organisation facing repeated criticism.
A recent economic study commissioned by North Ayrshire Council found that disruption to the Ardrossan-Brodick service cost Arran up to £170,000 a day in lost revenue to island businesses.
Meanwhile Associated British Ports (ABP) announced that improvements to the ferry terminal further down the Ayrshire coast at Troon are nearing completion to ‘support’ the CalMac ferry service from Ardrossan to Brodick and Campbeltown while harbour improvement works there are being carried out.