Breaking update: P&O ferry rescued following ‘not under command’ alert in the Irish Sea

Breaking update: P&O ferry rescued following 'not under command' alert in the Irish Sea

Breaking update: P&O ferry rescued following ‘not under command’ alert in the Irish Sea.

The vessel was travelling between Larne and Cairnryan when it was left adrift following the emergency alert.

UPDATE 5.16 pm (April 26) – A P&O ferry has been rescued following a ‘not under command’ alert in the Irish Sea on Tuesday, April 26. The ‘European Causeway’ was left adrift for hours after suffering a ‘mechanical issue’.

Emma Vardy, an Ireland correspondent for BBC News, revealed a picture of the ferry – said to have been transporting up to 410 passengers – back at Larne port after RNLI lifeboats were scrambled to the scene.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) released a statement following the news.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The reports of the European Causeway drifting in water off Larne having lost all power are deeply concerning, not least for the agency crew and passengers onboard.

“Since our members were viciously sacked on 17 March, this vessel has been detained by the MCA for failing a raft of safety checks.

“The list of offences is now as long as your arm and the Government has to step in and protect ferry safety and jobs.

“P&O and their pay masters in Dubai are no longer capable of running a safe service and should be stripped of the licence to operate their ships.”

ORIGINAL 4.49 (April 26) – A P&O ferry carrying up to 410 passengers has been left adrift in the Irish Sea on Tuesday, April 26 after an emergency alert noted that the vessel was ‘not under command’.

An emergency was been declared after the ‘European Causeway’ ferry was left adrift off the East Antrim coast, close to the Maidens about 6 miles from shore. The ferry, which set off Cairnryan at midday, was due to arrive at Larne Harbour at 2 pm but never arrived.

As reported by the Daily Mail, its automatic identification system (AIS) was believed to state that the ferry was ‘Not Under Command’.

As noted by the company’s website, a ‘not under command’ alert is reserved for use when a vessel, “through some exceptional circumstance is unable to manoeuvre as required by these rules and is, therefore, unable to keep out of the way of another vessel”.

On April 19, it was revealed that the European Causeway failed safety inspections carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The Express reported at the time that 31 safety failures were detected in late March – including inadequate fire prevention systems, and inflatable evacuation slides not being properly maintained and crew having a lack of familiarity with radio equipment.

After failing its first safety inspection, the vessel was released by officials on April 8.

A statement from P&O ferries said: “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.”

On March 17, P&O Ferries announced that 800 staff would be losing their jobs with immediate effect following huge losses from the company.

A P&O Ferries spokesperson said at the time: “We have made a £100m (€119m) loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World. This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now. Without these changes, there is no future for P&O Ferries.

“These circumstances have resulted in a very difficult but necessary decision, which was only taken after seriously considering all the available options.

“As part of the process we are starting today, we are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.”

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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at