P&O Ferries resumes Canal crossings for the first time since the looting | P&O ferries - New Style Motorsport

P&O Ferries has resumed sailings across the English Channel for the first time since laying off almost 800 seafarers.

The Spirit of Britain ship left Dover for Calais shortly after 11pm on Tuesday with cargo customers, while passenger services are expected to resume early next week.

Earlier that day, another P&O Ferries ship, European Causeway, had been drifting five miles off the coast of Northern Ireland for two hours in the afternoon after losing power.

The company was widely condemned after it replaced 786 crew members with cheaper agency staff on March 17.

Its chief executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, told a joint hearing of the House of Commons business and transport committees that same month that P&O Ferries broke the law by failing to consult with unions before implementing the decision. He has rejected calls to resign.

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the National Union of Railway, Transport and Maritime Workers, said: “After yesterday’s ship adrift off the coast of Larne, no P&O ferry should ever sail for safety reasons.

“Staffing ferries with undertrained, underequipped, overworked and grossly underpaid seafarers flagrantly undermines maritime safety. There will be more safety related incidents in the P&O fleet under these intolerable owners and we can only hope they don’t escalate.

“Rather than risk the safety of workers and passengers, the government should step in now and take over the operation of all P&O vessels.”

On Tuesday, the Trades Union Congress called for a public and commercial boycott of the company, saying it deserves “pariah status” for the way it treats its employees.

P&O Ferries’ suspension of Dover-Calais voyages after the looting caused a capacity shortage on the key route, leading to long truck queues on Kent’s coastal roads in the run-up to Easter.

The Spirit of Britain was detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on April 12 after safety concerns were found, but was cleared to sail on Friday.

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The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, ran into difficulties on Tuesday after losing power while sailing between Cairnryan, Scotland, and Larne, Northern Ireland.

The MarineTraffic website indicated that the status of the ferry’s automatic identification system had been set to “not under control,” which is reserved for use when a vessel “cannot maneuver as required by these rules and therefore cannot stay out of another’s way.” vessel”.

A P&O Ferries spokesman said it had been a temporary problem and that the European Causeway had traveled to Larne “under its own power”.

It added that “all relevant authorities have been informed” and “a full independent investigation will be carried out.”

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