Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Scottish Police Patrol Ports as CalMac Staff Suffer Abuse from Ferry Fiasco

16th November 2022
Police patrol ports along western Scotland due to increasing abuse and threats to ferry staff of operator CalMac as disruption to lifeline Island services has been caused chiefly to an ageing ferry fleet. Above the much delayed Clyde built newbuild Glen Sannox was to enter the Isle of Arran service in 2018 but is not expected to make a debut until next year.
Police patrol ports along western Scotland due to increasing abuse and threats to ferry staff of operator CalMac as disruption to lifeline Island services has been caused chiefly to an ageing ferry fleet. Above the much delayed Clyde built newbuild Glen Sannox was to enter the Isle of Arran service in 2018 but is not expected to make a debut until next year. Credit: heraldscotland/facebook

Police along the west coast of Scotland are having to patrol ports during bank holidays as ferry staff are being faced with abuse from frustrated travellers.

As The Herald reports, the threats include to running over workers from customers due to disruption arising from the ongoing ferry fiasco at CalMac.

The Scottish Government owned operator is also the largest in the UK with an ageing fleet of more than 30 vessels taking in over 50 ports and harbours along 200 miles of the coast.

Leaders from trade Unions have warned that the bleak picture of "under pressure" staff could lead to wrong decisions being made about sailing in addition to posing a risk to lives.

According to the unions, workers face issues with abuse and threats that has increased in the past five years - as disruption to lifeline island ferry services has become more acute.

In addition they say that Police Scotland are now having to monitor certain ports so to keep order when ferries are under demand in particular during bank holidays.

The union for maritime professionals at sea and ashore, Nautilus International has said there have been threats to run people over just to get on board ferries "as if that is going to help the situation".

At the core of the abuse are the continuing issues with CalMac's ageing ferry fleet breaking down, resulting in a string of cancellations and other disruption to services.

So far this year, around some 17 of the state-owned ferry operator's 31 working ferries deployed across Scotland's isles and lochs were past their 25-year-old life expectancy.

The oldest ferry in the CalMac fleet is the 46 year old Isle of Cumbrae, which Afloat adds was built by Ailsa Shipbuilding Co, Troon in 1976 and entered service the following year.

Nearby of Troon, is Ardrossan where another veteran the Isle of Arran dating to 1984 serves its island namesake to Brodrick. The Clyde route is to have the over-budget and much delayed newbuild duel-fuel powered Glen Sannox enter service albeit five years late in 2023.

The Herald (continues with more of the story) in highlighting that since the Scottish National Party came to power in 2007, the average age of CalMac's ferries has soared from 17 years to 24 years.

Back in 1974, the operator's vessel was typically just 13 years old.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

Email The Author

Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

Who is Your Sailor of the Year 2022?
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating