P&O Ferries: Inspection to be carried out on European Causeway vessel after loss of power at sea

P&O Ferries has said a full investigation will be carried out after a vessel travelling from Cairnryan lost power off the coast of Larne.

The European Causeway docked at Larne.  Picture by Stephen Hamilton / PressEye
The European Causeway docked at Larne. Picture by Stephen Hamilton / PressEye

The European Causeway was adrift in the Irish Sea for more than an hour on Tuesday afternoon, with three lifeboats dispatched to the scene.

Commenting on the incident, a spokesperson for P&O Ferries said the incident was due to a "temporary mechanical issue".

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

The passenger ferry later continued on its scheduled journey to the Port of Larne "under its own propulsion, with local tugs on standby".

It has since docked at Larne harbour after regaining power. No injuries were reported.

"Once in dock a full independent investigation will be undertaken," P&O Ferries added.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed that its surveyors were carrying out a full inspection of the European Causeway. "This follows the mechanical failure while it was at sea yesterday," the Agency said.

"It is important to note that this does not mean the ferry is under detention but will be inspected before it returns to full service.

“There are no further inspections of P&O Ferries at the moment but we will reinspect when requested by P&O Ferries."

Ferry issue follows mass dismissals

The ship's loss of power is the latest in a series of difficulties for P&O Ferries.

In March, the transport operator faced heavy criticism after its shock dismissal of 800 staff, who were replaced with agency workers.

The European Causeway was then detained at Larne for two weeks after an initial inspection by the MCA on March 25 uncovered 31 safety failings.

Commenting on yesterday's incident, East Antrim UUP candidate Roy Beggs said: “I welcome the decision of Maritime And Coastguard Agency to hold the European Causeway for further inspection in Larne.

"The North Channel is a notorious stretch of water that has strong currents and can have high seas. We were fortunate that there were calm seas yesterday when there was a total loss of power and the ship was left drifting."