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A gigantic P&O boat operating between Larne and Cairnryan has become adrift in the Irish Sea after a ‘mechanical issue’.

Floataway ferry The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, is currently bobbing around five miles off Larne Harbour.

It left Cairnryan at midday – with an unknown number of people onboard – due in to Larne Harbour at 2pm.

But it never arrived, sparking the RNI to launch a lifeboat to try and investigate what had happened.

It is understood the big boat lost power as it was trying to embark on its voyage.

The European Causeway had failed a safety inspection at the end of March but had been cleared for travel just two weeks ago.

A spokesman for P&O said: ‘Due to a mechanical issue with the Causeway in the Irish Sea, tugs from Larne and Belfast were deployed to guide it back to port.

‘Once the ship is back in Port a full inspection will take place.’

The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, is currently bobbing around

The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, is currently bobbing around

The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, is currently bobbing around

It left Cairnryan at midday - with an unknown number of people onboard - due in to Larne Harbour at 2pm

It left Cairnryan at midday - with an unknown number of people onboard - due in to Larne Harbour at 2pm

It left Cairnryan at midday – with an unknown number of people onboard – due in to Larne Harbour at 2pm

A route tracking map appeared to show it off course and bobbing around in the Irish Sea

A route tracking map appeared to show it off course and bobbing around in the Irish Sea

A route tracking map appeared to show it off course and bobbing around in the Irish Sea

The Marine Traffic website showed the boat was bot travelling as it should in the waters

The Marine Traffic website showed the boat was bot travelling as it should in the waters

The Marine Traffic website showed the boat was bot travelling as it should in the waters

Its automatic identification system (AIS) says it is currently Not Under Command.

The ferry company drew national outage last month when they illegally fired nearly 800 staff members without notice over Zoom and replaced them all immediately with cheaper foreign workers.

The agency workers who were hired to replace 786 staff say they were asked to sign new contracts on even lower pay.

It is claimed that if they refused to agree they faced being out of work and one agency worker emailed the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) , declaring: ‘We are desperate.’

P&O's boss Peter Hebblethwaite, who earns £345,000 a year, admitted  firing the workers over Zoom without notice was illegal in testimony to MPs

P&O's boss Peter Hebblethwaite, who earns £345,000 a year, admitted  firing the workers over Zoom without notice was illegal in testimony to MPs

P&O’s boss Peter Hebblethwaite, who earns £345,000 a year, admitted  firing the workers over Zoom without notice was illegal in testimony to MPs

P&O Ferries reportedly offered some of the agency workers, who replaced the near 800 staff fired last month, new contracts with even lower wages

P&O Ferries reportedly offered some of the agency workers, who replaced the near 800 staff fired last month, new contracts with even lower wages

P&O Ferries reportedly offered some of the agency workers, who replaced the near 800 staff fired last month, new contracts with even lower wages

P&O’s millionaire boss Peter Hebblethwaite, who admitted the sackings were illegal in testimony to MPs, replaced employees with cheaper £5.50-an-hour foreign agency workers.

Some crew earn just £748 a month for a 40-hour week – barely £4.50 an hour. 

In one example reported by The Mirror, workers say chefs paid £2,336 a month on temporary contracts were asked to sign new deals giving them £195 a month less.

Although it is not known who faced a cut in wages, or if staff on seven other ferries were targeted too.

Darren Procter, national secretary of the RMT says some of the new workers were brought in on just a month’s contract, and when those contracts expired the staff were offered ‘inferior terms’.

The RMT are campaigning for dismissed P&O staff to be reinstated, but ‘irrespective of nationality’ are concerned for the new staff members, Mr Procter added: ‘they are just as much victims as our members.’


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