On 26 April the P&O ferry European Causeway suffered a ‘temporary mechanical issue’ during a crossing from Cairnryan to Northern Ireland that required a response from lifeboats and local tugs.

P&O Ferries has struggled to operate a service after it fired 800 workers last month to cut costs, drawing sharp criticism from the government and sparking union protests.

Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have since inspected a number of P&O’s vessels and suspended four from sailing. Three have since been allowed to return.

P&O said following the mechanical issues, the European Causeway ferry continued on her scheduled journey to the Port of Larne in Northern Ireland under her own propulsion, with local tugs on standby.

The RNLI sent three lifeboats, including those from Larne and Red Bay, to assist the passenger ferry.

‘There are no reported injuries onboard and all the relevant authorities have been informed,’ a spokesperson said. ‘Once in dock a full independent investigation will be undertaken.’

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The reports of the European Causeway drifting in water off Larne having lost all power are deeply concerning, not least for the agency crew and passengers onboard.

‘Since our members were viciously sacked on 17 March, this vessel has been detained by the MCA for failing a raft of safety checks. The list of offences is now as long as your arm and the Government has to step in and protect ferry safety and jobs.’

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