P&O Ferries’ English Channel service between Dover and Calais has resumed this week following the recent release of the ferry Spirit of Britain from Port State Control detention.

Spirit of Britain had been detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency since 11 April 2022. Following a second inspection it was deemed acceptable for the 47,592gt vessel to be released from detention on 23 April. Since then, she has been undertaking operational trials at sea along the English coast.

According to media reports, the vessel returned to P&O Ferries’ Dover-Calais service during the last week of April in a freight-only mode, with passenger operations not expected to resume until early May at the earliest.

She is P&O Ferries’ first Dover-Calais ship to return to service after operations were suspended in March when all 800 crew on the company’s nine UK-managed ships were informed that they were losing their jobs with immediate effect to be replaced with cheaper crewing agency personnel.

Of P&O Ferries’ three other Dover-Calais service ships, Pride of Canterbury has yet to have her initial inspection and Spirit of France remains under repair in Rotterdam following a fire a couple of months ago.

The vessel Pride of Kent is still under detention in Dover having failed two port state control inspections due to ‘serious’ deficiencies and safety failings in contravention of the International Safety Management Code.

The company’s service between Scotland and Northern Ireland has resumed full operations following the return to service of the European Highlander after she was cleared to sail by the MCA following a PSC inspection. A partial service resumed on April 9 when European Highlander’s sistership European Causeway returned to the Cairnryan-Larne service.

One further P&O Ferries ship has yet to re-enter service. The 17,464gt Norbay, which normally operates on the Liverpool-Dublin route, together with Netherlands-flagged sister Norbank, was inspected by the MCA during mid-April.


Spirit of Britain laid up at Dover (Andrew Wood).

European Causeway arrives from Cairnryan on Saturday 23 April 2022, with European Highlander berthed at Larne prior to her re-introduction on the route which took place the following day. (Scott Mackey)

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