England

Condor Liberation ferry detained over safety fears

Condor Liberation
Image caption The £50m Condor Liberation service has been disrupted by engineering problems

A high-speed ferry service between the UK and the Channel Islands has been halted over safety concerns.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) staff visited the Condor Liberation in Poole on Tuesday.

The agency said the ferry had been detained "after substantial deficiencies were observed by inspectors".

Condor said their operating schedule will be disrupted "for at least part of the weekend" due to re-inspections.

It added engineers were rectifying faults and working on the trimaran's propulsion and steering systems.

Alternative sailings will be offered on conventional ferries while repairs are made. A return to service date is due on Thursday.

Analysis

Image caption Condor Liberation sailings had already been cancelled on Saturday due to a fault with the craft

Paul Clifton, BBC South's transport correspondent

This is the latest in a sorry saga of misfortunes to affect the Condor Liberation. It is also potentially the most serious.

Condor has been in the headlines almost weekly since the troubled Liberation ferry was introduced a year ago.

The MCA does not detain passenger ships lightly and finding "substantial deficiencies" in the safety of a nearly-new ship is almost unheard of.

The last occasion I can recall affecting Channel Islands services was a very old ferry called Havelet almost 20 years ago.

When ships are detained in this manner, sometimes changes can be made in a few days. Sometimes it can take much longer.

The £50m high-speed ferry service has been blighted with problems since its launch in March.

Last month, passengers on the fast ferry experienced hours of travel delays because of steering problems.

Its replacement vessel, the Commodore Clipper, then suffered a ramp failure meaning cars on its upper deck were unable to get off for more than 12 hours.

The ferry operator is meeting with Channel Island's politicians monthly to monitor how it is improving its service to customers.

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