Hundreds of P&O ferry passengers left stranded off NI coast after losing power

A P&O ferry went adrift for hours off the coast of Northern Ireland on Tuesday afternoon.

The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, was about five miles away from Larne Harbor when it experienced a mechanical issue.

The vessel had left Cairnryan at around 12 noon and was due to arrive at Larne at 2pm.

Read more: Tourist believed to be from Northern Ireland stabbed to death in Portugal

But at around lunchtime passengers and crew found themselves stuck at sea due to a mechanical issue.

The ship was back in port after 4pm and P&O has said a full inspection will take place.

Passenger Jonny Wilson was traveling with his wife and two young children, aged five and two, from his home in Manchester for a short break to see his family back in Northern Ireland when the European Causeway stopped in the Irish Sea.

“We were sat in the middle of watching Peter Rabbit 2 when the lights just cut out. You’re an hour and a bit into your journey and then you’re just sat there in the middle of the Irish Sea. It was very frustrating. and annoying, “he told the BBC.

Mr Wilson said the ship lost power and the lights went off around 1.15pm before the vessel slowly came to a stop.

“I looked outside and the emergency lights were out … slowly we just came to a stop in the middle of the sea. My first thought was about the P&O and failings of the ship.

“I’ve been back and forth on this route all my life but I’ve never sat in the middle of the sea before with the lights off – a bit odd!” he said

“About 15 minutes later we were told we would get going again in about 10 mins but then there was nothing for about half an hour.

“Then it was we’ll get going in 20 minutes and nothing was happening but eventually we were told the engines had failed and we can’t get going.

“It was around an hour and a half after it happened that we were told we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Less than two hours after it was due to arrive at Larne Harbor, P&O confirmed the ferry was continuing its journey “under its own propulsion”.

Tugs from Larne and Belfast were deployed to guide it back to port, they added.

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 26th April 2022 Picture by Stephen Hamilton // PressEye A P&O ferry from Scotland to Northern Ireland has regained power after spending hours adrift in the Irish Sea. The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, has docked at Larne Harbor. It left Cairnryan at about 12:00 BST and was due to arrive at Larne Harbor at 14:00 but got into trouble at 13:30. P&O said the incident was caused by a mechanical issue that had been resolved and a full inspection would take place when it docks in Larne.

Three RNLI lifeboats from Larne and Red Bay have been sent to the scene, an RNLI spokesperson said.

The website states the vessel’s automatic identification system status is set to “not under command” which is reserved for use when a vessel is “unable to manoeuvre as required by these rules and is, therefore, unable to keep out of the way of another vessel “.

Last month, this ferry was detained in Northern Ireland after being deemed “unfit to sail” around the same time that hundreds of UK staff were suddenly sacked.

The European Causeway vessel was in the Northern Ireland port due to “failures on crew familiarization, vessel documentation and crew training”, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said at the time.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said at the time he would not compromise the safety of P&O vessels and insisted that the company would not be able to rush training for inexperienced people.

The company sacked almost 800 seafarers and plans to replace them with agency staff on cheaper salaries.

On April 8, the ferry was released from detention and cleared to sail again.

A spokesman for P&O Ferries said: “Following a temporary mechanical issue, the European Causeway is now continuing on its scheduled journey to the Port of Larne under its own propulsion, with local tugs on standby, where it will discharge its passengers and cargo as planned. .

“There are no reported injuries onboard and all the relevant authorities have been informed. Once in dock a full independent investigation will be undertaken.”

Read more: Full P&O service resumes from Northern Ireland to Scotland

Read more: Two ships inspected as P&O ferries tries to resume normal operations

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