MV Alfred is expected to begin a nine-month charter with CalMac from this week with the ship entering service following required testing for all fleet vessels.
The ship has never operated or completed berthing trials on any CalMac route which are required before she is welcomed into the fleet.
Ports expected to be visited by MV Alfred over the coming week to conduct trials include Ullapool, Lochmaddy, Port Askaig on Islay, Campbeltown, Brodick, Ardrossan and Troon.
The vessel will also conduct trials at Ayr harbour to determine suitability as a lay by berth with trials expected to be complete on 30 April, with the vessel available for service thereafter.
Managing Director of Pentland Ferries, Helen Inkster, said: “We are very pleased to confirm that the MV Pentalina is ready for service, which allows the MV Alfred to make her way to the West Coast. We would like to thank all of our staff, crew and everyone who has been involved in successfully preparing the MV Pentalina for this next stage in her service.
“We are also pleased to remind passengers that sailings on the Pentland Firth route will increase from three to four next week (Thursday 4 May), when we introduce our new summer timetable.”
Robbie Drummond, Chief Executive of CalMac, said: “I welcome the news from Pentland Ferries that MV Alfred will join us this week. Our primary focus will be to have her available for resilience purposes and provide relief benefits across the network. This should help mitigate the impact of disruption or where certain islands are reduced to single vessel service.
“Although resilience availability will remain the priority, there may be opportunities for MV Alfred to operate additional, non-bookable freight sailings, when possible, to support capacity constraints. This is most likely to be focused on freight operations at key pinch points on the network.
“We will continue to engage with network community representatives and commercial customers to discuss deployment options to support services across the network.”