Published: 10:52, 12 May 2022
| Updated: 16:25, 12 May 2022
A record number of deficiencies were discovered on P&O Ferries' Pride of Kent during safety inspections.
The ship, currently berthed in Dover, has now been passed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is expected to set sail in the next two weeks.
But the vessel was inspected and then resinpected a further three times by the MCA before it was cleared to sail.
Now, a report has revealed dirty working conditions, rescue boats not functioning and problems with fire safety systems were among 47 failures discovered on the Pride of Kent.
Thirteen of those deficiencies had grounds for detention.
The Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an alliance of maritime authorities from 27 nations, including the UK, listed the deficiencies but only provided limited details.
Analysis by the PA news agency found the examination of Pride of Kent uncovered the most failures of any of the 1,209 Port State Control inspections of ro-ro ferries – which vehicles can be driven on to and off from – within the Paris MOU in the past three years.
P&O Ferries was required to have most of its ships inspected after sacking nearly 800 seafarers on March 17 and replacing them with cheaper agency workers.
Pride of Kent was detained after failing an initial examination on March 28.
Thirteen of its 47 failures related to fire safety, including the fire detection system being “not as required”, a “lack of training” on fire drills and inadequate escape routes.
Ten areas of concern with labour conditions were highlighted, such as locations - including accommodation and catering - “not hygienic”, an issue with medical care and “unsafe” electrics.
The crew had a “lack of training” in how to navigate the ferry and a “lack of familiarity” with operating its machinery.
Fast rescue boats were “inoperative” and the provision of lifebuoys was “not as required”.
Pride of Kent failed two further reinspections, before passing at the fourth attempt on Monday.
A P&O Ferries spokesman said: "The Pride of Kent has passed its inspection by the MCA and will resume services on the Channel in the next two weeks.
"This comes after the Spirit of Britain already resumed sailing between Dover & Calais for tourists and freight last month.
"We take the safety of our passengers and crew very seriously and look forward to all of our ships welcoming tourist passengers and freight customers again.
"We would like to thank the MCA for their continued engagement in assessing our ships 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 fire its workers in March and hire cheaper agency staff in order to make its business viable.
Politicians and trade unions raised concerns about the safety of P&O Ferries following the mass sackings.
These have been strongly disputed by the company.
Last week, chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite hit out at “misinformation” about the firm.
Measures aimed at ensuring 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 that level.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the “disgraceful actions” of P&O Ferries “do not represent the principles of our world-leading maritime sector”.
The UK minimum wage for people aged 23 and above is £9.50 per hour.
P&O Ferries pays its new crew an average of £5.50 per hour, which it insists is in line with international maritime laws.
The operator has said it would “fully welcome” measures to increase pay for all seafarers in British waters as it wants “a level playing field”.