P&O ferry European Causeway faces new safety inspection after drifting in Irish Sea due to ‘mechanical issue’

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A P&O ferry is facing fresh safety checks after a “mechanical issue” in the Irish Sea forced the deployment of three lifeboats as a precaution.

The European Causeway was adrift five miles off Larne in Northern Ireland for more than an hour on Tuesday afternoon, according to the Marine Traffic site.

P&O tweeted that tugs had been deployed to tow the vessel back to port.

However, shortly after, the coastguard said: “The European Causeway has restored power and is now heading into Larne under its own power.”

The cause of the failure is being investigated and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) later confirmed that the European Causeway was to face a fresh safety inspection.

The body has been busy of late inspecting the firm’s ships following safety concerns prompted by P&O’s controversial mass redundancy programme that saw almost 800 seafarers replaced with cheaper agency staff.

The European Causeway was only released from detention on 8 April.

It was banned from sailing after an initial inspection on 25 March found 31 safety failings.

The ship was eventually allowed to operate again on the Larne-Cairnryan route following a second examination.

P&O's European Causeway ferry docked at Larne Port in Northern Ireland last week
The European Causeway pictured docked at Larne in March

‘Deeply concerning’ for crew and passengers

P&O described Tuesday’s incident, while en route to Larne, a “temporary mechanical issue”.

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

However, the RMT union said the failure was “deeply concerning, not least for the agency crew and passengers on board”.

P&O caused an outcry after suddenly replacing its fleet’s workforce on 17 March – a decision it later admitted was illegal.

The government’s business misconduct watchdog has launched criminal and civil probes into the company.

All of P&O’s ferries must pass an inspection before being allowed to sail again.

Dover-based ships the Pride of Kent and Spirit of Britain also did not pass initial inspections.

However, it’s understood freight services to Calais are set to resume on the Spirit of Britain early on Wednesday, with passenger services running again early next week.

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