P&O ferry ‘adrift’ in Irish sea with up to 410 passengers aboard

A P&O ferry was left adrift in the Irish Sea for over an hour this afternoon, after it lost power about five miles off the coast of Larne, Northern Ireland.

The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, left Cairnryan in Scotland this afternoon at midday, bound for Larne Harbour.

The RNLI sent out lifeboats shortly after the ferry did not arrive at the scheduled time of 2pm.

P&O confirmed the situation on Twitter, blaming “a mechanical issue”. The operator said that tugboats had been sent to guide it back to port.

It also canceled the scheduled 4pm ferry sailing from Larne, posting on Twitter: “We regret that due to a technical difficulty the 16:00 sailing is cancelled. Please rest assured that customers booked on this sailing will be accommodated on the next departure at 20:00. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

P&O has said that “a full independent investigation will be undertaken.”

Passenger Johnny Wilson tweeted: ‘Need an update on how @POferries are doing less than a week after restarting the Larne route? Well we’ve been sat stationery for over an hour with no power about 30 mins out of Larne…”

Mr Wilson told the BBC that the ferry had sat stationary for at least an hour after the power went out around 1.30pm.

Just after 4.05pm, BBC journalist Emma Vardy reported on Twitter that the European Causeway had arrived in Larne Harbour.

It follows a disastrous few weeks for the ferry operator after it sacked nearly 800 workers without notice in March, with the company forced to fire several agency staff for drinking on the job as well as having two of its vessels detained after safety inspections.

The European Causeway had failed a safety inspection at the end of March, but had been cleared for service two weeks ago.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said at the time that it had concerns over “failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training”.

The general secretary of the RMT Union – which has been protesting the company’s actions in dismissing hundreds of staff last month – Mick Lynch, said that the news was “deeply concerning”.

“The reports of the European Causeway drifting in water off Larne having lost all power are deeply concerning, not least for the agency crew and passengers onboard,” said Mr Lynch in a statement.

“Since our members were viciously sacked on 17 March, this vessel has been detained by the MCA for failing a raft of safety checks.

“The list of offenses is now as long as your arm and the Government has to step in and protect ferry safety and jobs.

“P&O and their pay masters in Dubai are no longer capable of running a safe service and should be stripped of the license to operate their ships.”

The Labor MP for East Hull, Karl Turner, wrote: “P&O Ferries vessels should be rebranded with a government health warning tattooed to the ships bows. This looks dangerous. We mustn’t jump to conclusions here but it’s worrying. Let’s hope and prey [sic] that all crew and passengers (if she is carrying passengers) are safe and well.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) told the BBC there were no concerns over the safety of passengers.

A P&O spokesperson said: “Following a temporary mechanical issue, the European Causeway is now continuing on its scheduled journey to the Port of Larne under its own propulsion, with local tugs on standby, where it will discharge its passengers and cargo as planned.

“There are no reported injuries onboard and all the relevant authorities have been informed.

“Once in dock, a full independent investigation will be undertaken.”

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