Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 09:51 UK

Heart attack delays ferry sailing

Scottish Viking
The Scottish Viking will sail to Zeebrugge three times a week

The maiden voyage of the new Zeebrugge-Rosyth service was delayed after the captain had a heart attack.

Norfolkline Scottish Viking, which replaces the Superfast service withdrawn last year, sailed at about 2200 BST on Monday.

The captain was said to be stable after surgery. A replacement officer was flown in by private jet from Italy.

The ferry left Zeebrugge four hours late, but Norfolkline said it hoped to make up some time during the crossing.

Norfolkline said it expected to ferry to dock in Rosyth at about 1400 BST on Tuesday.

The operator took on the Rosyth to Zeebrugge service after it was ditched by Superfast last September.

As Scottish Viking was built in an Italian shipyard and registered in Italy, flag state regulations state that the captain must be an Italian national
Don Clarke

Superfast, which had run the service for six years, blamed fuel costs and passenger numbers for the decision.

Norfolkline said its ship will depart from Zeebrugge in Belgium every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from Rosyth in Fife every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Don Clarke, passenger services manager for Norfolkline Rosyth to Zeebrugge route, said: "This delay is unfortunately outwith our control and is a result of the sudden illness of the Italian captain, Captain Antonio Arbilli, who has been flown to hospital.

"The company understands that Captain Arbilli is in a stable condition.

"As Scottish Viking was built in an Italian shipyard and registered in Italy, flag state regulations state that the captain must be an Italian national.

"A replacement captain, Dominico Commisso, was found and flown to Belgium to bring the ship over to Rosyth."

Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson, said: "The launch of the booking service is great news for passengers, tourists and businesses who can now plan their travel with confidence.

"With our year of Homecoming this is a major boost. Visitors from Europe can now make plans to join in our Homecoming celebrations.

"We have a unique opportunity with Norfolkline to get the ferry off to the best possible start through encouraging friends and family from Europe to travel to Scotland using this new ferry service.

"Maintaining connections with major European markets is vital for Scotland, particularly during these challenging economic times."

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