Two vessels inspected as P&O Ferries attempts to resume normal operations

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Two P&O Ferries ships are inspected as the company attempts to resume normal operations after sacking nearly 800 seafarers.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it began assessing European Highlander on Thursday and Norbay on Wednesday.

P&O Ferries suspended most crossings after replacing 786 sailors with cheaper agency staff on March 17.

European Highlander normally operates between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan in Scotland, while Norbay serves the Liverpool-Dublin route.

A total of eight P&O Ferries vessels will be screened by the MCA under the Port State Control regime.

The P&O Ferries Spirit Of Britain remains in detention (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A spokesman for the agency said: “Our experts carry out a full inspection of the P&O ferry, European Highlander, before it returns to service to ensure that it complies with international manning and passenger safety regulations. operations, especially emergency procedures such as firefighting and evacuating the ship.

“Norbay’s inspection is ongoing.

‘There are no further P&O Ferries inspections at this time, but we will re-inspect at the request of P&O Ferries.’

The Spirit Of Britain and Pride Of Kent ferries remain in detention after safety concerns were discovered.

This has caused a shortage of ferry capacity ahead of Easter on the key Dover-Calais route, which has contributed to large lorry queues on Kent’s coastal routes.

European Causeway was shut down after an initial inspection on March 25 found 31 safety breaches.

The vessel was cleared to resume service on the Larne-Cairnryan route a fortnight later after another review.

Pride Of Hull has passed its inspection, allowing it to operate between Hull and Rotterdam.

Two other ferries are out of service as they have not yet been fully inspected.

Safety fears were raised after P&O Ferries replaced nearly 800 seafarers with cheaper agency staff on March 17.

The company suspended most crossings, but only expected the disruption to last 10 days.

On Tuesday, shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the company of being a ‘rogue operator’ which is ‘cutting corners and endangering the UK’s main shipping routes’.

P&O Ferries said in a statement that “any suggestion” that safety is compromised is “categorically false”.

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