The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced today it was inspecting another two of P&O’s ships as the company hopes to resume normal operations soon.
MCA agents said they were inspecting the European Highlander, which operates on Northern Ireland to Scotland routes, and the Norbay, which serves Liverpool to Dublin.
“Our surveyors are carrying out a full inspection of the P&O ferry, European Highlander, before it returns to service to make sure it complies with international regulations on manning and safe operation, in particular emergency procedures such as firefighting and evacuating the ship,” a MCA spokesperson said.
“There are no further inspections of P&O Ferries at the moment but we will reinspect when requested by P&O Ferries.”
Following last month’s sacking of 800 seafarers, P&O has been subject to intense government scrutiny.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps ordered the coast guard to inspect all eight of P&O’s vessels, to make sure crews were “safe and properly trained.”
As of today, two vessels – the Spirit of Britain and the Pride of Kent – remain in MCA custody while two others have been cleared to sail. The remaining two will be inspected in the coming weeks.
Despite the scandal, the group hoped to resume normal operations before Easter but has been forced to slash all Dover to Calais services for the time being.
Analysts have warned that the ferry operator could face bankruptcy as its safety rating sank to the lowest, potentially causing sky-high bills.
“This fall from a medium rating to now the lowest one will see P&O face a sky-high insurance bill,” Bruce Hepburn, chief executive of London-based insurance buyer Mactavish, told City A.M.
“Combined with increased insurance costs and the redundancy bill, the company may be in danger of bankruptcy.”