P&O Ferries’ Pride of Kent had a record number of breakdowns, including lifeboats not working and fire safety failures, inspectors found after the company made 800 workers redundant without notice
- The Pride of Kent was organized over six weeks by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
- Agency inspectors found there were 47 breakdowns, a record number of defects
- These included dirty working conditions and problems with fire safety systems
- He also found that some lifeboats were not working and problems with lifebuoys
A P&O Ferries vessel was found to have a record number of faults by inspectors, including dirty working conditions, non-functioning lifeboats and fire safety failures.
The Pride of Kent was held in Dover for six weeks in March by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which found 47 breakdowns on the vessel.
It comes after the company suddenly laid off 800 staff in March and replaced them with temps in a bid to cut costs, a move that has infuriated unions and politicians.
The Pride of Kent, pictured here alongside the Pride of Canterbury in Dover, was found to have a record number of faults
This led to most P&O Ferries vessels being detained and inspected by the MCA, which then reported defects with them to the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an alliance of maritime authorities from 27 nations, including the UK.
The memorandum of understanding listed the shortcomings, but only provided limited details.
Analysis by the PA news agency found the Pride of Kent review found the highest number of failures of 1,209 port state control inspections of ro-ro ferries – from which vehicles can be driven and disembarked – under the Paris MoU in the past. three years.
The Pride of Kent was detained after failing an initial review on March 28.
Thirteen of its 47 failures were related to fire safety, including the fire detection system being ‘not as needed’, ‘lack of training’ on fire drills and inadequate escape routes .
Ten areas of concern regarding working conditions were highlighted, such as ‘unsanitary’ locations, a medical care issue and ‘unsafe’ electrical installations.
The crew had a “lack of training” in how to navigate the ferry and a “lack of familiarity” with the operation of their machinery.
The fast lifeboats were ‘inoperative’ and the supply of lifebuoys was ‘not as needed’.
Pride of Kent failed two more inspections, before passing on the fourth attempt on Monday.
A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said: “We take the safety of our passengers and crew very seriously and look forward to all of our ships welcoming tourist passengers and cargo customers alike.
“We would like to thank the MCA for their continued commitment to assessing our vessels to ensure they meet the highest safety standards.”
Pride of Kent will resume sailings between Dover and Calais “within the next two weeks”, the spokesperson added.
The company has been lambasted by politicians, unions and workers after abruptly laying off 800 employees in March. Pictured are people protesting outside the P&O offices in Dover after the sackings
The ferry was first launched in 1991 and can carry up to 2,000 passengers.
Politicians and unions have raised concerns about the safety of P&O Ferries following the mass layoffs.
These were strongly contested by the company.
Last week chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite denounced “misinformation” about the company.
Measures to ensure seafarers are paid at least the UK’s national minimum wage were included in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday.
The government will introduce legislation banning ferries from docking at UK ports if they pay their workers below this level.
The Spirit of Britain and the Pride of Canterbury pictured at the Port of Dover earlier this month. The Spirit of Britain was cleared to resume cross-Channel services in early May
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the “shameful actions” of P&O Ferries “do not represent the principles of our leading shipping industry”.
The UK minimum wage for people aged 23 and over is £9.50 per hour.
P&O Ferries pays its new crew an average of £5.50 per hour, which it says is in line with international maritime laws.
The operator said it would ‘fully welcome’ moves to raise wages for all seafarers in UK waters as it wants ‘a level playing field’.
Irish Ferries, which also uses a low-cost labor model, began competing with the company on the Dover-Calais route in June 2021.