Dorset

Africa-bound ferry detained at Portland after breaking down

MV Jireh at Portland Port
Image caption The ferry, formerly known as Strandebarm, suffered power failure near Portland Port

A ship that was en route to West Africa from Norway has been detained in Portland after being towed to port following a power failure.

The Nigerian-registered MV Jireh, with nine people on board, previously sailed to Jersey and then Guernsey where it was given supplies by the Red Cross.

The islands' authorities said the ship sought permission to stay over winter.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the ship was towed after losing power near Portland Harbour.

MCA officers, Border Force and Port Health Authorities visited the ship on Tuesday.

Ports of Jersey said the vessel initially anchored off Jersey's east coast on 9 November because of bad weather and requested to berth in St Helier over the winter.

Image caption The MV Jireh has been detained at Portland

A spokesman said: "The crew was told that, unfortunately, we had no capacity for winter berthing and that if the vessel wanted to come into St Helier Harbour it would need to appoint a ship's handling agency to request permission for doing so.

"This is a usual procedure as the ship's agent would look after the ship's interests, including arranging for payment to the harbour authorities.

"We heard nothing further from the ship and it subsequently left Jersey's territorial waters and headed to our sister island, Guernsey."

While anchored off Guernsey, from 13 to 23 November, the Red Cross and Co-Op provided food and clothing to the crew.

Guernsey Harbours said the ship "sought permission to berth alongside and to possibly extend its visit in Guernsey" but was told there were no overwintering berthing facilities.

The MCA said the ship was towed to Portland by a commercial firm in the early hours of Tuesday.

A spokesman said: "The vessel will remain under MCA detention until it achieves full compliance with merchant shipping regulations."

A Home Office spokesman said: "Border Force assisted by Dorset Police is currently investigating an ongoing incident concerning a vessel at Portland Port."

The MV Jireh - a ro-ro ferry, previously called Strandebarm - set off for Senegal from Rubbestadneset in Norway on 28 October after being sold by its Norwegian owners.

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