Highlands & Islands

Divers to inspect Lochmaddy harbour crash ferry

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

Divers are due to carry out underwater inspections of a ferry which ran aground at Lochmaddy in North Uist.

Caledonian MacBrayne said the MV Hebrides, sailing from Harris, suffered a technical failure as she was preparing to dock at 11:00 on Sunday.

The speed of the vessel, which had 76 passengers and crew on board, could not be slowed and it crashed into pontoons and rocks on the seabed.

No-one on the ferry or on shore were hurt in the incident.

Travel from Uig on Skye to Tarbert and Lochmaddy is disrupted - with extra sailings on alternative routes.

A team of divers will inspect a below-water area of the hull.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has announced that it has begun an investigation of the incident.

Morag Macleod, who was waiting to board the ferry, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme about the boat's approach to the harbour.

"There was quite of a few of us standing there and we just watched this ferry take a route we had never seen it take before," she said.

"It was going at quite a speed past us into the bay instead of having gone into berth where it usually does by the pier.

"We were seeing it building momentum, thinking crikey the brakes have failed, that's the way it looked."

'Safety is paramount'

Calmac said the vessel "encountered a technical failure" and has apologised for the disruption.

In its latest statement on the incident, Calmac said it was continuing to form contingency plans.

The ferry operator has put on two return sailings, instead of the usual single return journey from Lochboisdale on South Uist to Mallaig, on Monday.

There will also be an additional return sailing on the Berneray to Leverburgh, Isle of Harris, route.

CalMac's operations director Drew Collier said: "We are doing everything possible to ease disruption for our customers and apologise for the undoubted inconvenience which is being experienced.

"We are grateful for the support, patience and understanding we have received from passengers and we ask that our customers continue to bear with us while we work to sort out the best alternatives possible.

"The safety of our passengers, crew and vessel is paramount and everyone can be assured that a full formal investigation is under way."

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