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Hebrides News


Ewen Johnson

Ben Wear

A small screw jumped out of place at a critical moment causing the Cal Mac ferry, MV Hebrides, to run aground on the rocky seabed in Lochmaddy an investigation has found.

The grub screw should have been glued in place but service instructions were not available.

The port propeller kept rotating so the vessel was coming into harbour “too fast” at at 10 knots. There was no time to react when things went wrong on 25 September last year highlights the probe.

There was no contingency plan for such an incident - nor had drills ever been undertaken to prepare for personnel to deal with propulsion failures.

Control of the port side variable pitch propeller was lost on the approach to the pier

The skipper attempted to control the ferry’s movements but he was unable to prevent it from running over several yacht pontoons and briefly grounding.








On board the 5500 vessel were 32 crew, 45 passengers and 14 vehicles. There were no injuries but the ferry was damaged and had to be taken out of service and repaired in dry dock.

Central to the cause of the accident was a grub or adjustment screw jumping loose within a motor assembly on the propellor shaft which is used to alter the propellor pitch to change speed.











Engineers did not realise it was meant to be glued in place as the device service manual was not available to ship’s engineers or shore-based service engineers.

An alarm system recommended by the control system manufacturer had not been fitted -  Cal Mac had no record of the letter advising the change.

The bridge and engine control room officers were not sufficiently prepared or practiced to deal effectively with a loss of control in confined waters.

Cal Mac said: "Since the grounding in September last year we have put in place a number of processes to mitigate the issues raised and will continue to monitor these areas to ensure our procedures meet the highest possible standards and give our customers assurance that we take their safety very seriously."


Loctite glue should have been used to secure the screw in place

Ferry crashed because of the lack of a drop of glue

14 Sept 2017