Almost 1,500 passengers have been hit by a ferry fault which has forced the cancellation of Brittany Ferries’ sailings from Cork to France and Spain this weekend.
The ferry company, which operates its flagship vessel, Pont-Aven, between Cork and Roscoff in northern France and the Connemara vessel between Cork and Santander in northern Spain, confirmed that weekend sailings on both routes have been cancelled.
The company has arranged for the Connemara to cover the Pont-Aven sailings over the weekend to facilitate more than 1,000 Irish and French customers in getting home.
A spokesperson blamed longer-than-expected re-pairs to a hydraulic fault affecting the Pont-Aven’s rudder for today’s cancellation of its Roscoff to Cork sailing and its return sailing tomorrow.
The spokesperson said:
“Customers are being offered alternative sailings or a full refund. We would like to offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience and disruption to passenger journeys.”
The company also confirmed that the Cork to Santander sailing today and the return sailing on Sunday have also been cancelled for “operational reasons” as the vessel is drafted in to operate on the Roscoff route. It also apologised for the inconvenience this will cause.
It is the third time in recent weeks that sailings on the Pont-Aven have been disrupted by technical issues. Problems with one of its four engines which reduced the ship’s speed from 24 to 20 knots were reported on April 29.
The reduced operational speed forced a schedule adjustment on its UK to Spain routes, with a decision taken to operate the Pont-Aven’s Spanish sailings exclusively from Plymouth, rather than Portsmouth.
This change of departure port, the company said, let it maintain the same number of weekly crossings between England and Spain. Fitting a replacement fourth engine will take several months in dry dock with the work scheduled for early 2020.
Then the hydraulic problem with one of its two steering gear systems was reported during manoeuvres on May 17 in Roscoff, after the overnight crossing from Plymouth. All passengers disembarked safely and on schedule but as a result of the reduced steering capacity, the vessel was not able to complete its rotation from Roscoff to Cork that Friday night.
An oil leak was identified which caused the pressure loss and a reduction in steering capacity. The vessel was out of action for scheduled services between the UK and Spain the week after but was able to sail under its own steam to Brest for repairs.