Ferry Breaks from Moorings During Storm in the UK

ferry breaks moorings during weekend storm in the UK
Galicia on docking trials in the fall at Plymouth, England prior to entry into service - courtesy of Brittany Ferries

Published Dec 28, 2020 2:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

The new 41,000 gross ton ferry the Galicia, operating for Brittany Ferries, broke from her moorings and briefly grounded during a strong storm that hit the UK over the weekend. The ferry was safely returned to its dock and resumed service on Sunday evening, December 27.

The Galicia, which entered service in the beginning of December, was docked in the UK port of Portsmouth when the strong storm hit the region. At the time there were no passengers aboard. 

Forecasters had been projecting winds of up to 70 to 80 mph along the coast and heavy rain squalls. The meteorological bureau reports that the nearby Isle of Wight recorded wind gusts in excess of 100 mph at the peak of the storm.

At around 3:00 a.m. on December 27, during a period of high winds, the Galicia snapped her stern mooring lines blowing her north across the port. Brittany Ferries reports that her stern touched the seabed near Whale Island while her captain and crew struggled to regain control of the ferry. Three tugs from the area also assisted along with input from two harbor pilots and the ports’ operation team.

Ben McInnes, Portsmouth Harbour Master said, “I am pleased that the Galicia, of Brittany Ferries, was successfully returned to the International Port after breaking her moorings during storm Bella. We activated the port emergency response team and dispatched two pilot boats, and three tugs to pull her stern free on the incoming tide. The bow remained afloat and at her berth at all times. Nobody was injured, and no pollution was created. As with any marine incident, a full investigation will take place. I am proud of the team effort to resolve the situation and bring the ship safely back to berth.”

The ferry was secured alongside her berth at approximately 5:30 a.m. and during the day divers were sent down to inspect the underside of the ship and the classification authorities also met with the captain and inspected the vessel. Brittany Ferries reports that the damage to the ferry was minor and that the ship was certified by the appropriate authorities, including the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, to resume service. The Galicia sailed from Portsmouth to Cherbourg overnight.

Built at the CMJL (China Merchants Jinling Shipyard) shipyard in Weihai, China, the Galicia was delivered in September and after arriving in Europe and undergoing final tests, she officially entered service at the beginning of December 2020. Measuring 705 feet in length, she is the largest ferry ever built for service to Portsmouth. She can accommodate 1,000 passengers and with her vehicle decks, she is capable of accommodating 155 trailers. The first of three ferries being built, they are expected to add capacity and provide new passenger comforts on the route between England, France, and Spain.