Ferries running between Kilcreggan and Gourock have been limited to 12 passengers.
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) stated today (Tuesday) that the boat itself had the required certificate to operate on that route, but operators Clydelink had a master who did not have the correct qualifications to operate it as a class five passenger vessel.
He said that Clydelink had chosen to operate the route with a maximum of 12 passengers at a time, since they did not have the certificates and endorsement required for more than that. If more than 12 passengers were carried, Clydelink must have been using a different master, with the correct qualifications.
An MCA spokesman said he could not comment on other issues affecting the service: “Our job is just to ensure that the public is safe.”
Clydelink took over the service from Clyde Marine on April; the contract requires them to provide a boat for 60 passengers.
The company announced yesterday (Monday) afternoon that the service was limited to 12 passengers, but it ran to full capacity for this morning’s sailings. At 2.20pm the company announced that the service was again limited to 12 passengers, with additional runs being made ‘to clear any waiting passengers.’
SNP MSP Stuart McMillan said: “It somewhat defies belief as to the mess that Strathclyde Passenger Transport (sic) have presided over in relation to the Gourock to Kilcreggan ferry service.
“This service is a vital commuting link for constituents in West Scotland who require utilising the ferry to get to and from work.
“I believe serious questions must be asked of SPT and those who are involved in the organisation as these delays and passenger restrictions cannot continue.
“We must have a service which is fit for purpose.”
And Councillor George Freeman said he had heard from the MCA that they “understand that the company has decided to operate the Island Princess within the requirements of Inland waters small passenger boat code until such time as they are able to meet the manning requirements as required by their Class V PC”.
He added: “The situation appears to go from bad to worse. Instead of a vessel that can carry 60 passengers as was a requirement of the tendering / contract process, we now have a vessel that can carry no more than 12 passengers and leaves any additional passengers behind on the pier on a regular basis.
“As far as I can determine, this is another failure to comply with the terms of the contract and I will be raising the issue with SPT and also passing the additional information to Audit Scotland.”