A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The Pride of Kent has been detained due to failures on vessel documentation, crew familiarisation and training, and emergency equipment not functioning properly, indicating a failure of the implementation of a safety management system. We have advised P&O to invite us back once they have addressed the issues. We do not know yet when this will be.”
Of the eight P&O Ferries that require MCA inspection, Pride of Hull has been inspected and cleared to sail, European Causeway and Pride of Kent are under detention, European Highlander was cleared for relocation but is yet to have its Port State Control inspection, and Pride of Canterbury, Spirit of Britain, Spirit of France and Norbay all are yet to have their Port State Control inspections.
Pride of Kent was built in 1991, has a gross tonnage of 30,635 and carries 2,000 passengers, according to P&O Ferries' website. Since 2003, the vessel has served the Dover to Calais route connecting the UK and France across the English Channel, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
The detention of Pride of Kent and European Causeway follow P&O Ferries’ decision to sack 800 of its seafarers with the aim of replacing the workers with agency staff. P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite said the difficult change would cut its crewing bill in half and help to ensure the company’s survival.
The mass firing sparked outrage in the UK as seafarers were given no notice and the company failed to consult unions or notify flag states in advance, breaches of the law Hebblethwaite has admitted.
Unions Nautilus and RMT have been vocal in their opposition the P&O Ferries’ actions. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch, said: "It's rare enough for the MCA to impound a ferry but P&O have now had two in a week after the jobs carve up which speaks volumes about the dire state of their operation.
"It's now high time for these important vessels to be taken over under public control with the sacked crews reinstated as the only way to get these crucial ferry routes back running safely. "
P&O Ferries had planned to return its vessels to service in around 10 days after replacing the crews, but the company and its vessels have come under scrutiny from government and regulators, with a focus on the safety implications of sailing large ferries across busy shipping lanes with new crews.
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