P&O pledges full investigation after European Causeway ferry loses power in Irish Sea off Larne coast

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

The European Causeway, which can carry 410 passengers, was adrift five miles off the coast of Larne for more than an hour on Tuesday afternoon, according to tracking website Marine Traffic.

The website stated the vessel’s automatic identification system status had been 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”.

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A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said it had been a temporary issue and the European Causeway was now travelling to Larne “under its own propulsion”.

The European Causeway docked at Larne Harbour.The European Causeway docked at Larne Harbour.
The European Causeway docked at Larne Harbour.

The spokesperson 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 on board and all the relevant authorities have been informed.

“Once in dock a full independent investigation will be undertaken.”

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A RNLI spokesperson said that three lifeboats had been sent to the scene.

The spokesperson said: “Three RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch this afternoon to assist a passenger ferry in difficulty one mile south east of The Maidens.

“Larne RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched at 2.17pm while Red Bay’s RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched at 2.35pm followed by the inshore lifeboat at 3pm.

“All lifeboats are currently on scene.”

P&O said that the vessel had been affected by a “mechanical issue”.

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The company tweeted: “Due to a mechanical issue with the Causeway in the Irish Sea, tugs from Larne and Belfast were deployed to guide it back to port.

“Once the ship is back in Port a full inspection will take place.”

The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ Union (RMT) said the reports were “deeply concerning, not least for the agency crew and passengers on board”.

The European Causeway had been detained at Larne after an initial inspection by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on March 25 uncovered 31 safety failings.

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This was due to safety concerns after the company sacked nearly 800 seafarers and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.

The ship was cleared to resume serving the Larne-Cairnryan route a fortnight later following another examination.”