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

A P&O ferry is currently adrift in the Irish Sea, 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 is understood to have launched a lifeboat search 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 have been sent to guide it back to port.

It also cancelled its 4pm 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 departing at 20:00. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Sources say the vessel lost power while still at sea.

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…”

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 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 offences 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 licence to operate their ships.”

The Labour 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.”


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