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P&O Ferry Fails Third MCA Inspection as Service Resumes to France

P&O Ferry fails third inspection remains detaiend
P&O Ferries resumed passenger service from Dover but one of the ferries remains in detention (P&O Ferries file photo)

Published May 4, 2022 8:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

After nearly seven weeks, P&O Ferries has for the first-time resumed service on all its routes between the UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, and France, but the company continues to face challenges after it replaced 800 crewmembers with lower-paid contract agency workers. Yesterday, one of the company’s ferries failed its third inspection by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, while the calls for a boycott also continue.

On its website, P&O Ferries is reporting to passengers that it is “still experiencing some disruptions,” to service advising to check the updates on social media. At the same time, the company has also provided a contact to obtain refunds for canceled sailing and for individuals that do not wish to travel with the company.

Starting on May 3, P&O began accepting passengers again on its busiest route between Dover and Calais. Last week, the company had commenced cargo service only after its ferry Spirit of Britain cleared an 11-day detention by the MCA. The vessel racked up no less than 23 “deficiencies” ranging from documentation and training to more serious issues with the fast rescue boats which were not properly maintained, inoperative oil filtering equipment, fire doors that were not as required, and issues with fire dampers.

P&O Tweeted out a message reporting that it would be operating a single vessel for the next week on the crossing of the English Channel to France down from its normal service which consists of four vessels.

The reduced level of service is in part because a sister ship, the Pride of Kent, failed its third inspection by the MCA and remains under detention. The MCA issued a detention order for the ship on March 28 and at P&O’s request conducted a second inspection on April 13 where deficiencies were again reported. P&O Ferries requested a third inspection, which the vessel also failed on May 3. 

Under the rules of the Paris MOU, the specific details of the deficiencies and which issues qualified for detention are not published until the situation is resolved. However, in earlier media interviews, the MCA said that inspectors on the Pride of Kent, like P&O’s other vessels that had been detained, identified issues with crew training and familiarization with the vessel, documentation, and safety issues with emergency equipment that was not functioning properly.

General Secretary Mick Lynch of the RMT issued a statement saying, “For the third time in a month P&O’s Cypriot flagged Pride of Kent has failed a full safety inspection by the MCA. Passengers and haulers need to know that P&O’s fleet is operated by overworked and under-skilled agency crews, some expected to work for up to 17 weeks on the intensive Dover-Calais route.”

P&O Ferries has two other vessels that remain laid up. The company has yet to request inspections from the MCA for its ferries the Pride of Canterbury, which is in Dover, and the Spirit of France, which is currently in Rotterdam. No timeline has been reported when these two vessels would undergo inspections and might return to service.