Lifeboat cable breaks on new P&O cross-channel ferry

Passenger / vehicle RoRo P&O Pioneer (IMO 9895161) a new £100m vessel, was undergoing repairs in Northern France after an accident during a safety drill at sea, reported ITV News.

The P&O Pioneer, which is not yet in service, had been sailing to the UK from its construction site in China.

Early last week, while the vessel was moored off the coast of the Isle of Wight, a steel cable attached to one of Pioneer’s lifeboats snapped when it was launched during a training and equipment testing exercise.

The thick cable is supposed to be capable of bearing the weight of a lifeboat when fully loaded with passengers and crew. According to several sources familiar with the situation, the lifeboat was empty and was left dangling above the water for around 20 minutes after the cable broke.

The lifeboat – one of four fitted onboard Pioneer – was eventually lowered into the water and towed to Gosport Marina, where it was berthed among the private yachts.

The new ferry was due to arrive in Dover Monday 3rd April where it was scheduled to be inspected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency before being cleared to carry passengers.

P&O intended that the ship would begin sailing the Dover – Calais route in May.

As it stands, it is at anchor in Dunkirk. An investigation is being carried out and cables and lifting gears for all four lifeboats are being replaced.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch confirmed it was contacted by P&O and that it was in the process of trying to establish what happened and whether to conduct its own investigation. It said that it was “aware of the incident with the P&O Pioneer and is in communication with the company and the flag administration [in Cyprus] regarding the event”.

The P&O Pioneer is one of two new ferries the company ordered from Guangzhou Shipyard International Ltd in September 2019 at a cost of €260m (£230m).

2023-built, Cyprus-flagged, 47,653 gt P&O Pioneer is owned and managed by DP World France SAS. ISM manager is P&O Ferries Holdings Ltd of Dover, UK. It is entered with North Standard (previously with Standard Club) on behalf of DP World France SAS. As of April 10th it remained moored at Dunkirk.