THE fledgling Fastnet Line has been forced to cancel its first three ferry sailings on the Cork-Swansea route due to mechanical problems.
The company had intended to resume the ferry service on Monday.
But its hopes were dashed yesterday when it was discovered that the MV Julia had some mechanical defects which needed to be rectified before it would be allowed into service by maritime authorities.
The problems were discovered while the 21,699-tonne vessel, which was built in 1982, was being inspected during a refit at Swansea docks.
Tom Barrett, chief executive of the Fastnet Line, said it was regrettable that sailings had to be cancelled.
“It is a big blow, but we have to do things right. There are no in-betweens,” he said.
Mr Barrett described the problems as small, but they nevertheless require fixing and they were awaiting some parts.
He said as a result the planned sailing on March 1 to Swansea, March 3 back to Cork and March 4 returning to Swansea had been cancelled.
The company is hoping the problems will be rectified by the end of next week, with the maiden voyage taking place shortly afterwards.
Around 450 passengers are affected by the cancellation and yesterday the Fastnet Line was contacting them.
They were offered the option to book alternative dates of their choice.
They will also be offered a 50% discount off their fare when they next book Fastnet Line.
Those who don’t wish to travel will receive a full refund of their fare.
“This is obviously disappointing,” said Captain Michael McCarthy, the Port of Cork’s commercial manager. “But we have full confidence in the viability of the service and we look forward to its commencement.”
The Julia, which was built in Germany and has capacity for 1,400 passengers, was purchased from a Finnish bank by a co-operative formed by West Cork Tourism.
Three years ago Swansea-Cork Ferries was forced to close its service after it failed to find a replacement for the MV Superferry.
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