Ferry cleared for maiden voyage after securing safety certificate

THE Cork to Swansea ferry has secured its safety certificate and will definitely make its maiden passenger voyage this week.

However, the Fastnet Line, which will operate the service using the MV Julia vessel, was last night unable to give an exact date for the first sailing.

A spokeswoman said she is waiting for confirmation that the last surveys, which were underway in Swansea yesterday, have been completed.

She confirmed that the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate was issued for the vessel last Thursday.

She said officials from the local regulatory authorities, the MCA, were conducting the few remaining surveys on the vessel yesterday on behalf of the British authorities.

Surveyors from the Department of the Marine are also conducting checks on behalf of the Irish authorities as the full certification process enters the final stages.

Once complete, it will bring to an end a difficult two weeks for the fledgling company which had hoped to resume the passenger service on March 1.

After years of campaigning for the restoration of the service and an intense round of fundraising, the West Cork Co-Op raised enough money and secured finance to purchase the MV Julia.

But her maiden voyage on March 1 was cancelled due to mechanical problems discovered while the vessel was in dry dock in Swansea.

Two subsequent sailings that week were also cancelled, disrupting the travel plans of some 450 people.

Fastnet Line rescheduled the maiden voyage to leave Cork last Friday night but the plug was pulled again because of outstanding certification issues. Several hundred more passengers were affected.

Once the surveys under way yesterday are complete, the vessel will be cleared to sail.

The 21,699-tonne ship was built in 1982 and has capacity for 1,400 passengers.

The Fastnet Line’s investors include Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork Chamber and hundreds of tourism interests in Cork and Wales.

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