Spirit of Britain cleared to sail after passing safety checks

A P&O ferry that was being held for reinspection has been cleared to sail, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has announced,

The MCA said the Dover-based Spirit of Britain “has been released from detention and can commence operations when P&O Ferries are ready”.

It also announced the European Highlander, which was detained in Larne, Northern Ireland, has a “small number of deficiencies” which needs to be addressed before the MCA will allow it to resume service.

A third vessel called the Norbay, which sails on the Liverpool-Dublin route was cleared to sail earlier on Friday.

It comes as the company attempts to return to normal operations after sacking nearly 800 seafarers last month.

The Spirit of Britain was detained earlier this month and P&O Ferries were requested to fix “a number of” safety issues raised by the assessment before the MCA carried out a second inspection.

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The ship’s detention, along with that of the Pride Of Kent vessel, caused a shortage of ferry capacity in the run-up to Easter on the key Dover-Calais route, which contributed to large queues of lorries on coastbound roads in Kent.

European Highlander normally operates between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan in Scotland

Safety fears were raised after P&O Ferries replaced its workforce with cheaper agency staff on March 17.

The firm suspended most of its sailings but reportedly only expected the disruption to last up to 10 days.

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