Coastguard Detains Condor Liberation in Poole

From bad to worse for Condor Ferries as flag ship detained by coastguard for ‘substantial deficiencies’ – though ship should return to service on Saturday there have been some further developments.

Also, remedial plan for fifty-failure New Botlek Bridge. Two Brits caught at 250kmh in France. First semi-autonomous real-life vehicle trial in the Netherlands as UK announces similar. Paris mayor leads Euro-city charge on diesel emissions.

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CONDOR LIBERATION ‘DETAINED’ IN POOLE

Coastguard finds ‘substantial deficiencies’ on Condor Ferries ship.

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Condor’s Liberation was supposed to mark a new era for the company, of improved mechanical reliability and weather hardiness.

Instead things have gone from bad to worse since the £50 million vessel went into service last March, culminating in a detention order issued today by the MCA Marine & Coastguard Agency.

In a statement, the MCA said, ‘Following a joint EU inspection by the Southampton Marine Office and French Affairs Maritime Port State Control colleagues, the Condor Liberation has been detained at Poole after substantial deficiencies were observed by MCA inspectors.

Following formal detention, the flag state and their recognised organisation are responsible for primary oversight and rectification of deficiencies. Once they are content, they will invite the Port State (MCA) to re-attend to verify the same.’

In reply, Condor Ferries said, ‘Condor’s engineers have been working on non-sailing days to rectify the faults on Condor Liberation which have affected recent sailings. This includes work on the propulsion and steering systems.

The MCA and Affairs Maritimes conducted a joint, routine inspection on Tuesday 15 March whilst this repair work was underway and as a result issued a Detention Order. Until the issues identified are resolved and the repairs are complete, the ship is unable to sail.’

Liberation has only recently returned from three weeks in dry dock annual maintenance over January and February.

Meanwhile, a ‘last-chance’ meeting last week with government ministers from Jersey and Guernsey apparently went well.

Update 14:00, Condor Ferries says the need for re-inspections after the completion of repairs means the sailing schedule will be disrupted for at least part of the weekend.

It continues, ‘Liberation is expected to return to service in a matter of days; the exact return to service date is expected to be confirmed tomorrow (Thursday 17 March).’

Condor says it has enacted contingency plans including rescheduling its conventional ships to provide alterative sailings, bringing in a charter ship for freight services and rescheduling Liberation sailings once it is back in service.

Update 17 March: in a statement this afternoon, Condor said the issues highlighted by MCA have been rectified. Subject to subsequent inspections, Liberation will return to service on Saturday.

It says the contingency plan is in place with a charter ship on the way for freight while Clipper will concentrate on passengers.

The new schedule for Friday and Saturday sees freight services unaffected, but only 70% of passengers will travel on their chosen day, many of them on a different ship and/or different time.

Update 18 March: after journalist @GaryBurgessITV published the engineer’s report last night, with a long list of Liberation’ technical faults, Condor said it understood why customers would be concerned but could not comment until after the inspection process was finished.

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Within five months of opening last July, the New Botlek Bridge on the A15 between southern Rotterdam and Europoort notched up its fiftieth failure (and there have been several more since). It makes the introduction of Condor’s Liberation look plain sailing. The fault has now been traced to the locking bolts and cable tensioning system according to an independent engineer’s report via infrastructure manger Rijkswaterstraat. Work starts immediately to implement the report’s recommendations with high hopes of an end to the frequent, embarrassing failures.

Within five months of opening last July, the New Botlek Bridge – on the A15 between southern Rotterdam and Europoort – notched up its fiftieth failure (and there have been several more since). It makes the introduction of Condor’s Liberation look plain sailing. The fault has now been traced to the locking bolts and cable tensioning system according to an independent engineer’s report, via infrastructure manger Rijkswaterstraat. Work starts immediately to implement the report’s recommendations with high hopes of an end to the frequent, embarrassing failures.

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roundup: FRANCE. A British-registered Ferrari California and Lamborghini Gallardo were caught at 250kmh (155mph) on the A26 near Troyes. ‘Two new pedestrians!’ tweeted @Gendarmerie. It’s not clear if the cars were confiscated though that is a distinct possibility. Two drivers from Jersey were caught at up to 150mph on the way back to St Malo last August reported the Jersey Evening Post – their cars and licences were taken away until the court case some weeks later at which they were both fined €2000. Speeding at more than 50kmh above the speed limit is the cut-off point for the harshest penalties. NETHERLANDS. As the British Chancellor confirms autonomous truck trials in the UK later this year, and cars next – and a new £15 million smart corridor on the M/A20 London-Dover trialling V2X vehicle-to-infrastructure communication – the first real-life trial of semi-autonomous cars gets underway on the A2 between Amsterdam and Beesd. Fifty cars from five manufacturers made the 120km roundtrip in an experiment described as a success by transport minister Melanie Schulz. Drivers were not able to fully disengage – which would be against the law as it stands – but the cars could brake, accelerate and change lanes automatically. Next on the Dutch agenda is the European Truck Platooning Challenge starting next Thursday with groups of vehicles from around the Continent heading to Rotterdam. CITIES. Paris mayor Anne Hildalgo, who has been at the forefront of the anti-urban diesel movement, even before the VW scandal, is the lead signatory on an open letter today attacking ‘weak’ EU limits on nitrogen oxide pollution. Co-signers include mayors from nineteen other European cities, but not Berlin, Rome or London according to The Guardian. MEPs failed to veto a proposal to water down targets last month. ‘It is unacceptable to introduce emissions thresholds, only to allow them to be violated,’ the letter says. ‘It cannot be right to impose a duty upon public authorities to comply with air pollution standards, while at the same time giving the automotive industry the green light to infringe them.’

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