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Channel Islands Ferry Has Technical Fault After Entering Service Sees Ship Go to Irish Sea for Dry-Docking

1st November 2023
UK-Channel Islands operator, Condor Ferries which introduced ropax Condor Islander, was withdrawn from service due to technical problems just three days after its maiden passenger sailing. AFLOAT updates as the ferry has since sailed to the Irish Sea and is now in dry-dock at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead on Merseyside.
UK-Channel Islands operator, Condor Ferries which introduced ropax Condor Islander, was withdrawn from service due to technical problems just three days after its maiden passenger sailing. AFLOAT updates as the ferry has since sailed to the Irish Sea and is now in dry-dock at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead on Merseyside. Credit: Condor Ferries-facebook

UK-Channel Islands operator, Condor Ferries' newly introduced ropax, Condor Islander, is out of service due to technical problems that took place just three days after its first passenger sailing.

The stern vehicle loading only ferry which was acquired from a New Zealand operator, arrived to St. Peter Port, Guernsey from the UK on Sunday 22 October, the day of its maiden passenger sailing.

The Dutch built ropax was unable to continue on to St. Helier, Jersey but returned to Portsmouth instead.

ITV News understood there is an issue with the ferry's bow thrusters (see symbol on bow of above photo) that led to sailings between Thursday 26 October and tomorrow’s, Thursday 2 November being cancelled. today (1 November) can confirm Condor Islander is off service, as the ropax vessel departed last Thursday bound for the Irish Sea where the ferry arrived two days later and is currently in dry-dock at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.

The 125m long 400 passenger ferry with more than 1,200 freight lane metres, was in April acquired from New Zealand operator StraitNZ with the help of a £26 million loan from the States of Guernsey.

When approached by ITV News, a spokesperson for Condor Ferries declined to comment on the disruption which continues as Afloat adds with this week’s Storm Ciarán.

According to the operators’ facebook sailing update, it has been necessary to cancel conventional and fast-craft crossings today.

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Jehan Ashmore

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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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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!