I have been living in Shetland long enough to remember 23 years of lifeline ferry service from P&O and the last 15 years from NorthLink.
In all these years the winter weather is on and off much the same with the odd extreme period, so why year on year is the NorthLink service getting so progressively unreliable?
This weekend is not an extreme weather event in Shetland or Aberdeen waters but all the boats are tied up or delayed on the busiest weekend of the year.
I know some of this is down to unnecessary and counter productive levels of health and safety that now make many things in life almost impossible to do.
I also know, from acquaintances who know about ships, that the vessels on the Northern Isles routes are not suited to the conditions or Aberdeen Harbour. But these factors alone do not explain why NorthLink gives up at the slightest bit of wind and lumpy sea, with the excuses from the boardroom more akin to operations on a sunny day in the Mediterranean.
So can anyone explain why one year in the NorthLink calendar gives us a lifeline service with more delays and cancelations than in several years put together of the former P&O service?
Are the ships so useless? Is NorthLink so scared of being sued if someone falls over on a rough passage? Does NorthLink save money by not sailing?
Whatever the reasons, it’s imperative come the next contract, that the local communities of both Orkney and Shetland have a say in what service we need and not the rigged sham that saw NorthLink and then Serco take over.