Three children among passengers rescued after Orkney ferry runs aground | UK News
All passengers aboard an Orkney ferry were rescued after a fire broke out in her engine room and she ran aground.
The incident on the MV Pentalina last night was likely caused by a “sudden mechanical failure,” the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said today.
Three children and an infant were among the 60 passengers rescued by the RNLI from the stranded boat.
Most of the crew was also evacuated, although eight are known to have stayed behind to keep an eye on the situation.
Pentland Ferries, operator of the Pentalina, said smoke was detected in the engine room before the boat ran aground near the village of St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay in the south east of the archipelago.
A Coastguard spokesman said: “Coastguard rescue teams from St Margaret’s Hope, Stromness and Kirkwall, along with Stromness and Longhope RNLI lifeboats, responded to a passenger vessel reporting fire and subsequent minor flooding near St 19: 30 p.m.
“A Mayday program was put out. The fire was extinguished and the passengers were evacuated by lifeboat to St Margaret’s Hope where they were met by the Scottish Ambulance Service and Police Scotland.
“All passengers have been reported safe and well.”
He said the vessel was refloated at 5.30am today after being towed by a tug and that the Marine Casualty Investigation Branch had been informed.
A spokesman for the RMT union said: “A thorough investigation will be needed to determine how this major incident on board the Pentland Ferries ship came about.”
The incident is the latest in a series of problems affecting the ferry network that islanders and visitors rely on along Scotland’s west and north coasts.
An aging fleet, frequent breakdowns and repeated delays in a Scottish Government contract to build new ships have put pressure on a number of key routes.
The Pentalina had just returned to service earlier this week to allow another ferry, the MV Alfred, to serve West Coast routes for the Calmac company.
Orkney Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur said there were important questions to answer from MCA as the organization recently inspected the Pentalina and certified it operational.
He added: “Responses are also needed from the Scottish Government, whose failure to source new ferries on time has left services extremely vulnerable on both the north and west coast.
“As a result, islanders and island communities are paying the price.”
A spokesman for Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government agency responsible for the ferry network, said: “The current priority is for Pentland Ferries to assess the condition of the ship and next steps to determine when it can return to service on the Pentland Firth .
“All parties will work to minimize the disruption to services to Orkney and Parliament will be kept informed.
‘We are committed to completing the two ferries at Ferguson Marine’s shipyard and supporting our island communities that rely on this type of vessel every day.’
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