A car and passenger ferry operators are having to live with yet another mishap with their £50million craft Condor Liberation or what people in the Channel Islands are calling it, the ‘Condor Cancellation’!
A problem earlier in 2016 was the ship being issued with a detention order from the MCA. But that was lifted after repairs and a further inspection.
Now a fuel fault has been identified and the company are having to run the ferry at reduced speed and has had to cancel day trips booked for that day. This follows on from a fuel pump issue back on 14th June 2016 when ferry crossings were again cancelled.
A recent BBC report claims that: Compared to 2015 there have been 22% fewer people travelling to and from Guernsey by sea so far this year. The number of people arriving in Jersey by boat has gone down by 20.4% in the first four months of 2016.
Trouble for the giant super fast ferry started on its inaugural trip to Guernsey when it was in collision with the harbour wall as it docked on its first passenger run to the island from Poole.
This much larger super cat ferry has had a catalogue of problems ever since it was put into service and the latest set back has now come as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had detained her after an inspection by the agency quoting the reasons as being “after substantial deficiencies were observed by inspectors”.
CONDOR LIBERATION WAS HELD IN PORT
The vesselwas being held in port at Poole, Dorset UK whilst the defects discovered on the inspection had been sorted out and the vessel was not be allowed to sail until the MCA and other agencies were satisfied with all repairs.
In the latest statement from Condor they said, “Yesterday’s routine annual inspection of Condor Liberation by the MCA and Affaires Maritimes coincided with planned repair and maintenance to the propulsion and steering systems on a non-sailing day. Consequently, the MCA found that until these systems were back in working order, the ship would be subject to a Detention Order.
The company has said that their engineers are working on the propulsion and steering systems of Bahamas registered trimaran. In the past Condor have talked about “unimaginable bad fortune”.
Their Executive Chairman Russell Kew was quoted as saying: “Condor Liberation is a superb ship, but faults can develop in high performance ferries. We promise that if they do then we’ll continue to work tirelessly to minimise the impact on you. But it’s worth noting just how reliable she has been on the 214 scheduled sailings since coming into service”.
However with these this latest faults being picked up on a nearly new vessel it does seem to be more serious and that the MCA do appear to be concerned with what their inspection teams had found.
The list of cancelled sailings and faults does seem to be growing:
28th March 2015
Collision with harbour wall Guernsey taken out of service although at no fault of the crew according to report. Returned on 5th April.
8th April 2015
Recurring electrical fault cancelled Guernsey to Jersey sailing.
11th April 2015
Mezzanine ramp problem delayed departure.
8th May 2015
Bow thruster problems meant the vessel could not take part in liberation events on 9th May.
18th September 2015
Passengers report that the vessel was cork-screwing in a 2 metre sea and generally many people have had concerns about the ride but the MCA have not launched an investigation into these issues according to Condor.
20th September 2015
Condor operated a reduced service as Condor Liberation was taken out of service “to consolidate repairs to the exhaust system”.
30th October 2015
Ship missed two days sailings due to over-running routine maintenance, as a fault took longer to repair than expected. The smaller Condor Clipper was diverted to fill in.
23rd November 2015
An electrical fault on Liberation detected before departure and sailing cancelled that day.
31st December 2015
Condor Liberation out of service until late February after being blown against its moring dock in Poole harbour.
27th February 2016
Condor Liberation had its sailings cancelled needing a repair and the back-up craft Clipper broke down in Portsmouth leaving passengers stranded for 12 hours.
16th March 2016
MCA detain Liberation in Poole after an inspection.
14th June 2016
Fuel pump problems sailing cancelled.
31st August 2016
Fuel problem means reduced running speed and day trips cancelled parts were being sourced.
The MCA reported the following reasons for the detention and found other failings.
- Propulsion main engine – Not as required
- Steering gear – Inoperative
- Fire doors/Openings in fire resisting divisions – Not as required
- ISM (International safety management code)- Not as required
- Emergency Steering Position – Inoperative
- Ready availability of firefighting equipment – Not Properly Stowed
- Public address system – Missing
- Maritime Labour certificate – Invalid
- Firefighting equipment and appliances – Not as required
- Fire Drills – Lack of training
BACKGROUND OF CONDOR OPERATIONS
Sailings were switched from the port of Weymouth to Poole because Condor wanted to operate the new larger ship from there but the local council in Weymouth could not come up with around £10m needed to modify the port for Condor Liberation. Condor then switched to Poole cutting out at a stroke a Channel Island link that goes back literally hundreds of years. This came on the back of several millions already having been spent on the port where Condor had operated from.
However the transit time out of Poole harbour is much longer and the distance to the Channel Islands is further from Poole than it would be from Weymouth.
On the two main islands both of their governments are closely monitoring events and have both voiced concerns over the ferry operation that is vital to all of the Channel Islands. Having recently been in Jersey I have to say that opinions about Condor after speaking with a number of islanders are that they are generally unhappy with the current ferry situation.
Back in Weymouth some of the old mariners of the town feel that removing that long nautical link is one reason for the bad luck that Condor are suffering now?