An independent report out this morning says that Condor’s controversial £50 million Liberation ferry is safe, stable, and well suited to the Jersey-UK route.
After months of delays and cancellations with the new ferry, the owners commissioned an independent report about whether it was right for the route, and whether it was safe.
The news comes less than a month after the current service was described as “completely unsustainable” and “completely unacceptable” by Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham after the latest set of delays.
The report has made a series of recommendations, all of which have been accepted by Condor. Harbour authorities in Jersey and Guernsey have also agreed to review fendering – protective barriers that site between docking vessels and the walls –in the ports.
Condor Ferries Executive Director – Operations, Captain Fran Collins said that the company will work to improve the reliability of the vessel’s engines, and will review next year’s sailing schedule.
She said: “Condor Liberation is a superb ship and, whilst we recognise that there are still opportunities to improve, we are delighted to have her as part of our fleet.
“This independent verification of her safety, suitability and performance is obviously very welcome. We accept all of the report’s findings and will implement its recommendations.
“Because we want to ensure that we can maximise the benefit of Liberation’s excellent seakeeping, we will continue to review all aspects of our berthing operation to establish what further improvements can be made.
“As part of this, we welcome the commitments made by Guernsey Harbours and Ports of Jersey to review the fendering in their harbours.”
A timeline of delays…
18 September – A failure of exhaust systems means that Condor are forced to cancel sailings over the weekend and announce that there will be delays. Investigation reveals that the damage is more extensive than first thought and more cancellations are announced – they also cancel all daytrips and ask all other customers to cancel non-essential journeys. A systems error also leads to overbooking and some passengers being unable to travel, leading to a protest in Poole which the police attend.
15 September – Condor say that an external hatch covering an evacuation slide on the Liberation has become detached. Although they say that the vessel is completely safe, they say that the hatch will be replaced as soon as possible under routine maintenance.
24 August - Liberation was unable to berth at St Peter Port because of restrictions due to high winds, and because another boat was docked near the berth that they wanted to use.
6 August – Investigators publish their report into what went wrong when the Clipper grounded on its way into St Peter Port in July 2014, blaming the accident on piloting systems, not a crew error.
12 June – Condor say that they will not tolerate abuse of their staff – they say that their employees have been abused physically and verbally, and have been intimidated by comments on social media. They also “question the veracity” of complaints and comments made by passengers to the media or online.
9 June – High winds force Condor Liberation to abandon an approach to Jersey, and divert to Guernsey instead.
27 May – Condor announce a report “to confirm” the suitability and performance of the Liberation has been commissioned by them, and the States of Jersey and Guernsey.
27 May – An investigation into the “berthing incident” in March when the Condor Liberation hit the harbour wall in St Peter Port finds that the crew were properly trained, but that a bad decision was made with the manoeuvring system which contributed to the accident.
19 May – Condor apologise to passengers for a rough crossing from Poole – saying that the rough seas were not predicted by forecasters, but that the vessel operated safely throughout.
23 April – In response to complaints from passengers, Condor say that the part of their forward deck which is open has left some cars splashed by sea water, but that it is “unlikely” to harm vehicles.
15 April – Condor Executive Chairman Russell Kew issues an open public apology to passengers for delays and disruption.
9 April – The company says that electrical faults with Liberation’s forward engine will mean more delays and a slower operating speed – they say that they aim to get the ship back in service for 10 April.
31 March – Condor say that the Liberation will be out of action until 4 April.
28 March – Damage to Condor’s Liberation caused by bashing against fenders in Guernsey’s harbours has put the vessel temporarily out of action, the company confirms.
27 March – Condor’s new £50 million vessel Liberation enters service – Condor Ferries say that the new ship will offer greater stability and “a smoother, more comfortable and reliable crossing for passengers”.
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