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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 January, 2005, 15:40 GMT
Stricken ferry refloated by tugs
P&O Ferry
The ferry was pushed into shallow waters by strong winds
A ferry which ran aground at Cairnryan Harbour in the west of Scotland has been refloated after being stuck for more than 30 hours.

Two tugs hauled the P&O car ferry off the rocks with the help of the high tide at about 1100 GMT on Sunday.

The ferry which had set sail from Larne, County Antrim, ran aground in winds of up to 100 miles per hour at about 0700 GMT on Saturday.

Forty three passengers and 57 crew had to spend the night on the ferry.

With one line tied to the bow and another to the stern, the tugs which had travelled down the River Clyde from Greenock managed to move the ferry into deeper waters.

The operation to free the European Highlander took less than 30 minutes to complete.

Once it was freed, the ferry had to sail about 100 metres before docking at the terminal.

An initial inspection of the hull carried out by Maritime and Coastguard Agency divers found limited damage.

The ferry has been taken to Liverpool for a full dry dock examination.

A reduced service is operating between Larne and Cairnryan.

'Big squall'

Samuel Esdale, 42, a haulage contractor from Randalstown in County Antrim, said he was out on deck when he noticed the boat was struggling to dock in a "big squall", but said there was no crash.

"There were no bumps or bangs of any sort, nobody fell over, nothing moved and that was her for the rest of day - docked," he said.

His wife Jayne said no-one on the ferry was panicking.

"We were fed, had duvets and pillows - they were very good to us really," she said.

European Highlander
P&O said the bar was closed for safety reasons
"But no alcohol, just for safety reasons in case they had to take us off another way."

Martin O'Donnell, 23, a car breaker from Dungloe in County Donegal complained about the lack of information given to passengers by the ferry company.

He said "a lot of us were very upset about the bar", which closed at 0600 GMT on Saturday, though he added: "It could have been a lot worse."

A P&O spokeswoman said passengers were kept as comfortable as possible "given the circumstances".

"There was food and drink available and they were kept informed. The ship captain himself came down to speak to the passengers individually," she said.

She said the bar had been shut for "safety reasons".

"Although there was no danger, we do that in emergency situations," she said.




SEE ALSO:
Passengers stuck on ferry
08 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
In pictures: Storm sweeps UK
08 Jan 05 |  Photo Gallery



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