P&O Ferries have sailed into a storm of protest after confirming that Hull-based vessels Pride of York (1987/31,785gt) and Pride of Hull (2001/59,925gt) are being switched from UK to Bahamas registry in a move to avoid increased crewing costs from possible changes to employment law.

The last major passenger ship to be built on the Clyde, Pride of York links Hull with Zeebrugge while Pride of Hull, delivered by Italian builders Fincantieri, maintains the Hull-Rotterdam Europoort service, both of them sailing opposite Dutch-flagged sisterships.

Leading the criticism was Lord Prescott, the former Hull East Member of Parliament who first worked as a steward on North Atlantic liners. ‘It is unacceptable that P&O should go for the flags of convenience option when it already has a British tax advantage. It gets all the services without paying the tax,’ he maintained.

A P&O spokesman said: ‘We want to try to protect the jobs that exist on those ships and maintain the economics of the route’. The move has also been loudly criticised maritime union RMT. National secretary Steve Todd commented: ‘It is galling that P&O, like other operators who receive the benefit of Tonnage Tax, are not required to have a British flag.’


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