2 More P&O Ferries Cleared to Sail Following Mass Sacking of Crews

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
April 23, 2022 Updated: April 23, 2022

Two P&O Ferries vessels have been cleared to resume sailing, the UK’s maritime authority said on Friday.

Norbay, which serves the Liverpool-Dublin route, was cleared after a Port State Control (PSC) inspection that started on Wednesday.

The Spirit of Britain, which was detained on April 12 over “a number of deficiencies,” was released from detention following reinspection, meaning the company can now resume some of its operations between Dover, England, and Calais, France.

But the Maritime and Coastguard Authority (MCA) said it had found “a small number of deficiencies” in the European Highlander after an inspection that started on Thursday.

“The MCA requires confirmation that these have been rectified before the vessel is free to resume service,” it said.

The European Highlander normally operates between Larne, Northern Ireland, and Cairnryan, Scotland.

Another ship serving the same route, the European Causeway, was detained on March 25 after it was deemed “unfit” to sail “due to failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation, and crew training,” and released on April 8 following reinspection.

A report showed MCA had found that European Causeway’s “launching arrangements for survival craft” were “not as required.”

Among other flaws identified by the MCA were an inflatable evacuation slide not properly maintained, inadequate fire prevention systems, and crew having a lack of familiarity with radio equipment.

There were also problems with labour conditions, navigation, and documentation.

The Paris Memorandum of Understanding—an alliance of 27 national maritime authorities, including the UK—listed the 31 safety deficiencies but did not provide further details.

Among the eight vessels that are subject to inspections, three have resumed sailing, one was cleared to sail, two remain under detention after failing the inspections, and two others are awaiting inspection.

P&O Ferries, which was bought by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World in 2019, sparked outrage when it fired 786 UK-based seafarers without any prior notice on March 17 and later replaced them with cheaper agency workers, citing a £100 million ($132 million) year-on-year loss.

The firm suspended most of its sailings but reportedly only expected the disruption to last up to 10 days.

Following the mass-sacking of seafarers, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ordered the MCA to carry out detailed inspections of all P&O vessels under the PSC regime—which is the inspection of foreign ships in national ports to verify that the condition of the ship and its equipment comply with the requirements of international regulations and that the ship is manned and operated in compliance with these rules, according to the International Maritime Organization.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.