Another P&O Ferries vessel has been detained after surveyors identified “a number of deficiencies”, casting doubt on the firm’s plans to restart the Dover-Calais route before Easter.
The Spirit of Britain, which is based at Dover, has been detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and will not be released until a further inspection is carried out.
A spokesman for the MCA said: “We have advised P&O to invite us back once they have addressed the issues. We do not know yet when this will be.”
The detention of the vessel comes as P&O planned to resume cross-Channel services between Dover and Calais for the Easter weekend.
The Spirit of Britain will not be able to return until the MCA is satisfied that the ferries “fulfil the requirement of the Port State Control regime and are safe to put to sea”.
The MCA is in the process of inspecting all eight of P&O Ferries’ vessels after the company sacked all 800 of its UK workforce, replacing them with cheaper foreign agency workers.
The Pride of Kent – another vessel used on the Dover-Calais route – remains under detention after failing a safety inspection.
The European Causeway, which runs from Cairnryan in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland, was detained last month over crew training concerns, but was reinspected and cleared to sail earlier this week. The Pride of Hull, which runs from the Humber port to Rotterdam, has been cleared to sail.
The lack of ferries comes amid warnings of widespread travel disruption at Dover and other ports in Kent in the run-up to the Easter weekend.
Last week, UK customs officials admitted they were battling to resolve an outage in a key post-Brexit IT system, with drivers complaining that the malfunction was adding to long delays for freight traffic trying to cross the Channel.
Logistics UK has called for a “rapid reinstatement of full ferry capacity” before the Easter weekend to help reduce long lorry queues.
Source: The Guardian