The CalMac ferry MV Clansman diverted yesterday in response to a request from Clyde Coastguard.
At 11:54 yesterday, Clansman was on passage from Tiree to Coll and answered a call from Clyde Coastguard to any vessels in the vicinity of Tiree who could render assistance to a reported casualty to the NW of that island.
There was a report of four people in an inflatable dinghy who appeared to be in some difficulty.
Clyde Coastguard asked Clansman to go to the general area but could not give her a specific position for the reported casualty.
Clansman’s Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) crew were assembled and the craft made ready for launch.
At 12:10 the coastguard were ab;e to gove a position for the dinghy and the Clansman revised its ETA in scene to 30 minutes.
The ship started reducing speed in order to launch its fast rescue craft and were then contacted by the coastguard, reporting that the casualties had been recovered by shore assistance and that Clansman could stand down.
Passengers were kept fully advised of the situation throughout the direction of the incident and the ferry arrived at Coll at 12:51. 46 mins late.
This is one of the unseen contributions to safety at sea that the presence of our Clyde and west coast ferry services ensures.
Experienced skippers are familiar with the waters, the marine charts and the shorescapes. The capacity of ships and crews to respond quickly and purposefully, as Clansman did yesterday, is an immense security.
The lesson as usual is for those using essentially unstable craft like inflatable dinghys, vulnerable to currents and windage. to limit severely where they attempt to go in them.
Tiree and Coll are well out in the Atlantic – not a boating pond in a park but an ocean. Clansman’s FRC was not , in the end, needed but knowing it’s there to deploy in these circumstances and with a trained crew, is reassuring.