The captain of a ferry now serving on the Arran route "almost certainly fell asleep" when it was grounded on an island in the Pentland Firth, a report has found.

Some 41 people were injured when the MV Alfred grounded on Swona on July 5, 2022 on a crossing to St Margaret's Hope in Orkney.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has found that the ship "routinely" passed too close to land, and crew may not have been following proper procedures.

MAIB said they hoped "lessons would be learned" by operator Pentland Ferries but revealed that they were "encouraged" by steps the company had taken since then.

The investigation found that the ship's master "experienced a loss of awareness" at the helm, which the report believed was "almost certainly as a result of falling asleep for approximately 70 seconds".

As a result, the Alfred swung towards the coast, where it struck the rocks at a speed of 13 knots.

There were 97 people on board the boat when the accident happened, and of the 41 injuries suffered, 10 were serious, including a compound arm fracture.

The ferry had also followed a different route during the crossing.

The Orkney harbour authority's vessel traffic service was not monitoring the ferry's movement and therefore did not raise the alarm when it entered the guard zone around Swona Island.

After the ship ran aground, Alfred’s emergency response did not follow safety procedures, because the weekly drills had not adequately prepared the crew.

The report said that passengers with babies reported that the crew were unsure how lifejackets for infants should be secured.

The harbour authority has since taken action to improve its oversight of ferry operations.

Andrew Moll, the MAIB's chief inspector of marine accidents, said: “Lots of safety action has been taken as a result of this accident and I am encouraged by the actions taken by Pentland Ferries to address the issues raised in this report.

"The master almost certainly fell asleep and allowed the ferry to swing towards land. Crew should always be sufficiently well rested when coming on duty."

He added that it was "critical" a safe passage plan is made and followed correctly.

Pentland Ferries managing director Helen Inkster said: “While we will never be complacent, we are satisfied that all the actions that could be taken by Pentland Ferries to ensure passenger safety have already been taken."

The MV Alfred is currently being leased to CalMac, where it is currently operating the Arran service from Troon Harbour.