Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Problem ferry out of service twice during Cowes Week

Floating Bridge Number 6 Image copyright Isle of Wight Council
Image caption Since it came into service in May 2017 the chain ferry has broken down, run aground and been suspended by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency due to "training issues"

The Isle of Wight chain ferry is out of service for the second time in Cowes Week due to a mechanical fault.

On Wednesday, the £3.2m vessel ran aground and vehicles had to reverse off. It was halted again on Thursday following an issue with a "prow hinge".

The ferry was due to resume for foot passengers from 18:00 BST on Friday, in time for Cowes Week fireworks night.

Isle of Wight Council said the vessel would be escorted by workboats, at the request of the harbour master.

Cowes Harbour Master Stuart McIntosh said the purpose of the patrol vessels was "to control leisure craft".

Foot passengers have been making the crossing between Cowes and East Cowes on a passenger launch but vehicles face a detour of up to 12 miles (19km).

Council leader Dave Stewart said: "This issue was totally unexpected but officers have worked quickly to address the situation.

"Working alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Cowes harbourmaster, everyone has made every effort to ensure the vessel is operational for firework night.

"We have contacted Mainstay, who built the floating bridge, and they will be investigating the problem with the aim of making a full repair as soon as possible."

Floating Bridge Number 6 has been beset by problems since entering service in May 2017.

Car bumpers were scraped while disembarking and it suffered an electrical fault on its second day.

It has been in and out of service, beset by problems including night-time noise, running aground and a broken prow chain.

Currently, the vessel cannot run during a fast-flowing spring ebb tide due to issues with the chain depth under the water which poses issues to other vessels.

Wight Shipyard has been brought in to try and rectify some of the problems.

Cowes Week sailing regatta, which began on 4 August, closes on Saturday.


Image copyright Andrew Cooke
Image caption The noise from the ferry has been described as "disturbing and distracting"

Floating bridge timeline:

  • 13 May 2017 - Vessel launched
  • 14 May - Broke down
  • 15 May - Service suspended by Maritime and Coastguards Agency
  • 7 June - Ran aground
  • 9 June - Ran aground for a second time
  • 9 June - Council said it had cleared "silt build-up that caused the floating bridge to ground"
  • 10 June - Ran aground a third time
  • 13 June to 3 July - Taken out of service at low tide
  • 30 June - Broke down due to electrical fault
  • 21 July - Withdrawn from service at night due to noise levels
  • 4 September - Withdrawn from service indefinitely
  • 11 December - Service resumed as part of extended trial
  • 2 February 2018 - Broken prow chain
  • 14 April - Ran aground
  • 15-16 July - Out of service for "improvements"
  • Ongoing - Unable to run during low tides
  • 8 August - Ran aground
  • 9-10 August - Out of service due to mechanical issue

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