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Norbay Credit VesselFinder

Chaos and intrigue continue to reign at the P&O Ferries corner of the Dover straits, with drunk replacement crew sacked, remaining crew complaining of still being unpaid and their unions, apparently illegally, denied access to the port.

Unions have written to the Department for Transport complaining that a planned welfare inspection on Tuesday was denied by P&O, these inspections being part of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), an agreement between employers, the UK government and unions.

International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspectors say they had completed the required online security prior to their Dover visit and, as a courtesy, emailed ahead of their arrival; but it is understood that head of Dover Police Steve Williams denied them access on the grounds there had been no prior warning to P&O of their visit.

According to the inspectors, Dover Police telephoned P&O Ferries to ask if they should be allowed on board to speak with the crew and the ferry company denied them access.

ITF inspector Liam Wilson told The Loadstar: “Giving advanced warnings to vessel operating companies is something we don’t do, because in our experience crew are threatened and papers go missing.”

Meanwhile, seven replacement crew on the Dover ferry Spirit of Britain have been dismissed after returning to the vessel drunk, according to local sources.

Ahead of a protest today outside P&O parent Dubai’s DP World’s Palace Gate offices in London, a furious RMT general secretary Mick Lynch claimed: “P&O is running a pirate outfit staffed by under-trained, ill-prepared and super-exploited agency workers, making their ferries unsafe to use.”

The safety and operational inspections of the P&O Ferries ships by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) continues with the Liverpool to Dublin ferry, Norbay.

The inspections have thrown up significant safety issues, which, said ITF inspector Liam Wilson, one of the two refused access at Dover on Tuesday, was no surprise. He told The Loadstar that, before joining the ITF he had served on the Spirit of Britain, which he said was a complex vessel, and “it is crazy to try and put a new crew onboard and hope to see it operate the ship within a few days”.

Union sources claim replacement crew aboard P&O Ferries ships remained unpaid, there were concerns that safety issues would arise when operating the modern ro-ro ferries and suggestions that safety drills had not been carried out.

Mr Lynch said: “The contempt the company have for both staff and passengers is underlined by the Easter travel chaos at UK ports that the illegal actions have unleashed.”

Meanwhile a Port of Dover spokesperson told The Loadstar only the MCA and Department for Transport had an automatic right to access to the port, for safety reasons, adding: “All others must first gain authorisation from the organisation they intend to visit in order to apply for a visitor’s pass.”

The Loadstar contacted DP World for comment, but had not received a response by the time of publication.

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