Stranded Waverley passengers rescued after 24 hurt when steamer hit pier

A special CalMac ferry sailing was laid on to bring 138 passengers back from Arran

Friday, 4th September 2020, 10:48 am
Updated Friday, 4th September 2020, 5:15 pm
Damage to Waverley's bows visible today. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Damage to Waverley's bows visible today. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

It came after 24 people were injured when the Waverley paddle steamer crashed into a pier as it was docking in Arran just before 5:30pm yesterday.

CalMac rescued nearly 140 passengers stranded in Brodick with a special sailing back to the mainland five hours later.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Glasgow-based Waverley’s remaining cruises, which were due to have been extended to 12 September, have been cancelled.

Waverley docked in Brodick today as a CalMac ferry leaves for Ardrossan. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The world’s last ocean-going paddle steamer had returned to service last month after a two-year gap to be fitted with a new boiler and because of the Covid lockdown.

The incident is at least the fourth time the steamer is reported to have collided with harbours in the Clyde since 2009.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said 213 passengers and 26 crew were on board at the time of the collision

Several of the injured were taken to hospital on Arran or on the mainland by helicopter.

Karen Mulligan and her husband Andrew were knocked down steps by the collision. Picture: Karen Mulligan

Passengers said they had seen people flung to the deck of the 73-year-old vessel by the force of the collision.

‘Big, loud thud’

Karen Mulligan, 34, who was celebrating her birthday with her husband Andrew, said they had slipped on steps.

She told The Scotsman: “We were up on the top deck when there was a big, loud thud.

"It took me a few seconds to realise that when I saw people falling, it was quite serious.

"People were falling off seats. It was bonkers.

"Paramedics arrived quickly and the crew were fantastic, running about trying to help people.”

An MCA spokesperson said: “HM Coastguard was made aware at 5.28pm yesterday of an incident in which a paddle steamer collided with Brodick Pier on the Isle of Arran.

“A coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Prestwick and two Helimed were sent, along with Arran coastguard rescue team.

“Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and Police Scotland were at the scene.

"Along with partner agencies, we worked to ensure everyone was taken safely from the vessel, and those who did not require medical treatment were taken to Ardrossan by ferry.

“All emergency services had left the scene at 4am today.

“The [UK Department for Transport’s] Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed.”

A CalMac spokesperson said: “We put on a special sailing at 10.35pm last night to take 138 people who had been stranded on Arran over to Brodick.

"This was at the request of Transport Scotland, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and emergency services.

‘Shocked’

"The passengers then transferred onto coaches provided by Waverley Excursions.

Managing director Robbie Drummond said: “We were shocked to hear of the situation in Brodick harbour involving the Waverley, and my thoughts and best wishes are with those who were injured.

“We were more than happy to help return passengers to the mainland and worked closely with agencies including Waverley Excursions, who transported everyone onwards once they landed in Ardrossan.

“I would like to extend my deep gratitude to the crew on the Caledonian Isles and at Brodick and Ardrossan for their willingness to help out.

“Without them, this would not have been possible and their help in this case is one of many reasons why I am so proud of the CalMac team.”

‘Heavy contact’

Paul Semple, general manager of Waverley Excursions, which operates the steamer, said: “We have started our own investigation into the incident and at this stage I can’t give further details.

"The ship made a heavy contact with the east berth at Brodick when berthing.

“I was aboard and travelled back to Ardrossan with our passengers.

"We were able to arrange coaches to transport passengers back to Largs and Greenock from Ardrossan.

“CalMac and all the various services were exemplary in dealing with those injured and those passengers who required transport back to the mainland.

"I’m personally extremely grateful to everyone who assisted and my thoughts are with those who were injured.

“Waverley won’t be able to operate any further sailings this season.”

Previous collisions were reported at Rothesay three years ago, and at Kilcreggan and Dunoon in 2009.

A total of 12 people were injured in the Dunoon incident, involving a breakwater.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app.

With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them.

By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director