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More Ireland-France Sailings Cancelled As Brittany Flagship Is Off Service for Repairs

27th May 2019
Sporting the new Brittany Ferries livery is flagship Pont-Aven when in Cork Harbour before technical issues began to beset the cruiseferry as sailings once again are cancelled on the Cork-Roscoff route next weekend (Sat. 1 June) Sporting the new Brittany Ferries livery is flagship Pont-Aven when in Cork Harbour before technical issues began to beset the cruiseferry as sailings once again are cancelled on the Cork-Roscoff route next weekend (Sat. 1 June) Credit: Robert Bateman

Brittany Ferries have been forced yet again to cancel sailings on its Cork-Roscoff route due to operational reasons as flagship Pont-Aven continues to be beset with technical issues, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Currently Pont-Aven remains in dry-dock at Damen Shiprepair, Brest, following an hydraulic problem which took place in mid-May while on a sailing from the UK to France.

The incident led in turn to cancelled sailings on the Ireland-France route where affected passengers to date and next weekend (1 June) have been offered to defer the sailing to a later date (subject to availability) or cancel and receive a full refund.

Brittany Ferries are in the process of assisting customers and await a confirmed date of Pont-Aven's return (see updates) in addition the operator have taken the precaution of blocking any further bookings on cruiseferry between now and 7 June.

Communication of developments will also be made as soon as possible via our sailings update page.

An in-depth investigation has begun by the French operator into the incident.

Commenting about the incident Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO who said “We are all truly sorry for the further problems with our flagship vessel Pont-Aven. Unfortunately she has suffered two technical problems in rapid succession. While the previous engine problem, which reduced the ship’s speed from 24 knots to 20 knots, is entirely unrelated to the current steering gear issue, the consequence of further bad luck is significant inconvenience for our passengers."

The German built Pont-Aven is fitted with two entirely independent Rotary Vane steering gears, each operating one of two rudders. These are self-contained units positioned at her stern directly above the rudders . Hydraulic oil is injected at high pressure into a series of chambers which operate the rotating part of the steering servo-motors. As these chambers fill, the rotor turns, thus moving each rudder in the desired direction.

According to Brittany Ferries, Pont-Aven’s engineers were alerted to low oil pressure in the starboard steering gear. An oil leak was identified which caused the pressure loss and a reduction in steering capacity. Under these circumstances, the decision was immediately taken to take Pont-Aven out of service in Roscoff, for investigation and remedial work to be carried out in Brest.

Unfortunately, following further investigation it was found that damage to the starboard side steering gear was more extensive than originally suspected. This has meant a longer lay-over in Brest than originally planned to source replacement parts and carry out a comprehensive repair.

A repair procedure has been defined with the agreement of Bureau Veritas (certification authority) and the manufacturer. In parallel, a complete check of the port steering gear has been carried out.

Published in Brittany Ferries
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).

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