CalMac ferry runs aground in Lochmaddy harbour crash

image copyrightNorman MacAskill
image captionThe MV Hebrides crashed into a harbour wall and pier at Lochmaddy Marina in North Uist

A ferry has crashed into a harbour wall and run aground at Lochmaddy Marina in North Uist.

The MV Hebrides, which had 76 passengers and crew on board, was unable to slow down as it attempted to dock at 11:00.

It had been travelling from Tarbert on Harris when it is believed to have suffered engine problems.

No passengers on board the Caledonian MacBrayne vessel were injured in the incident.

Norman MacAskill, a truck owner and farmer who was waiting to board the ferry, said it was immediately obvious something was wrong as the vessel approached.

'Churning up the sea'

He said: "As I watched the ferry coming round the bend of the pier, she seemed to be going very fast. She just kept on coming and it was clear something was drastically wrong.

"Then she came to a dead stop. Someone said she was stuck in forward gear. You could hear the sound of the engine churning up the sea.

"They eventually managed to get her to stop and in reverse, but on the way back she hit the pier."

All services on the route have been cancelled for the day after what Caledonian MacBrayne described as "a technical issue".

A CalMac statement said: "A technical failure led to the vessel being unable to reduce speed sufficiently for the routine docking procedures and she struck both pontoons in Lochmaddy harbour and the seabed.

"No-one was injured and the vessel's hull remains intact. A total of 76 passengers and crew were on board, as well as 13 cars, one lorry and one motorhome.

image copyrightRichard Webb/Geograph
image captionThe ferry crashed into a harbour wall at the pier at Lochmaddy

"She is now alongside safely at Lochmaddy. All passengers and vehicles have been disembarked and alternative routes for all those affected are being investigated.

"A team of divers is on its way to make underwater investigations of the hull and a full inquiry into what happened has been launched.

"Travel on the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route is disrupted and likely to remain so for some time/a minimum of 48 hours."

A note in the Am Paipear's Facebook page said Monday's sheep sale at Lochmaddy had been cancelled as a result of the crash and would be rescheduled as soon as possible.

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