Record 47 flaws found on P&O’s Pride of Kent

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A record number of deficiencies have been discovered on P&O Ferries’ Pride of Kent during safety inspections.

The vessel, currently moored in Dover, has now been adopted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is expected to set sail within the next two weeks.

The Pride of Kent is still moored in Dover. Photo: Barry Goodwin

But the ship was inspected and reviewed three times by the MCA before being allowed to sail.

Now a report has revealed dirty working conditions, non-functioning lifeboats and problems with fire safety systems were among the 47 faults discovered on the Pride of Kent.

Thirteen of these breaches were grounds for detention.

The Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an alliance of maritime authorities from 27 countries including the UK, listed the gaps 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.

P&O Ferries had to have most of its ships inspected after laying off nearly 800 seafarers on March 17 and replacing them with cheaper agency workers.

Protesters in Dover the day after P&O Ferries laid off hundreds of staff
Protesters in Dover the day after P&O Ferries laid off hundreds of staff

Pride of Kent was detained after failing an initial exam on March 28.

Thirteen of its 47 failures were related to fire safety, including the fire detection system not being “in accordance with requirements”, “lack of training” on fire drills and inadequate escape routes.

Ten areas of concern regarding working conditions were highlighted, such as “unhygienic” premises – including accommodation and catering – a medical care problem and “dangerous” electricity.

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 re-inspections, before succeeding on the fourth attempt on Monday.

Managing Director Peter Hebblethwaite
Managing Director Peter Hebblethwaite

A P&O Ferries spokesman said: “The Pride of Kent has passed its inspection by the MCA and will resume service on the English Channel within the next two weeks.

“This comes after the Spirit of Britain already resumed sailing between Dover and Calais for tourists and cargo last month.

“We take the safety of our passengers and crew very seriously and look forward to all of our ships once again welcoming tourist passengers and cargo customers.

“We would like to thank the MCA for their continued commitment to assessing our vessels to ensure they meet the highest safety standards.”

The Pride of Kent was first launched in 1991 and can carry up to 2,000 passengers.

The company said it needed to lay off its employees in March and hire cheaper interim staff to make its business viable.

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.

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’.

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