The new P&O PIONEER travelling to Dunkirk without one of it's lifeboats. 

A new £100m 'superferry' owned by P&O is undergoing repairs in Northern France after an accident during a safety drill at sea. P&O PIONEER, which is not yet in service, has been sailing to the UK from the shipyard in China where it was built.On Sunday afternoon, while the vessel was moored off the coast of the Isle of Wight, a steel cable (known as a “fall”) 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 twenty minutes when the cable broke.

Tracking data from marinetraffic.com show that a local rescue vessel, the Sandown & Shanklin Independent lifeboat, attended the incident for two hours at 1pm on Sunday.

Screenshot 2023 04 08 at 4.22.07 pmThe lifeboat - one of four fitted onboard PIONEER- was eventually lowered into the water and towed to Gosport Marina where it is now berthed among the private yachts. A crude attempt has been made to disguise the identity of the lifeboat but the name P&O Pioneer is clearly visible beneath the paint.

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 as part of a process of rigorous safety checks before being cleared to carry passengers.

P&O hoped 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. “It’s not clear why the cable parted,” one source told me. “It’s incredible that this has happened on a brand new ship. Thank goodness the lifeboat was empty. Had there been anyone on board there almost certainly would have been casualties”.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has confirmed it was contacted by P&O and is in the process of trying to establish what happened and whether to conduct its own investigation.In a statement it said: “The MAIB is 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”.

P&O PIONEER is one of two new “hybrid” ferries the company ordered from Guangzhou Shipyard International Limited in September 2019 at a cost of 260 million Euros (£230 million).

Source : ITVnews (Joel Hills)