THE two Strangford-Portaferry passenger ferries MV Strangford and MV Portaferry ll were involved in a minor collision yesterday (23 May) as high winds whipped Strangford Lough. Services were temporarily affected.
A Roads Service spokesperson said: “An incident occurred at 12.30pm yesterday involving both the MV Strangford and Portaferry II, as the MV Strangford was being moved from its mooring into the ebbing dock into have routine inspection work carried out. The Portaferry II was at the slip loading passengers, and as the MV Strangford turned to manoeuvre around the Portaferry II, the ramps came into contact. This resulted in minor damage to ramps of both vessels and damage to a hydraulic ram fitting of the Portaferry II.
“The Portaferry II was taken out of service to allow repairs to be carried out to the hydraulic ram. The MV Strangford was put into service immediately, following inspection for any damage. A 7.5 tonne weight restriction was communicated to customers through the BBC, the ferry VMS signs, and ferry SMS text message service. Our Marine Engineers started work immediately on the hydraulic ram, and replaced the damaged fitting and tested the ram. The Portaferry II was put back into service at 3pm. The Department apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers.”
“One ferry was in operation over the Easter weekend and on the May Day bank holiday. A second vessel will be put into service over the coming bank holiday weekend if there is sufficient demand.”
Portaferry Councillor Joe Boyle said in response to the incident: “We have two holidays at Easter and May Day so far this year when we only had one ferry on. There were reports of people having to wait over two hours to get across on the ferry at Easter. And now we have another holiday weekend in front of us.
“It is important that tourists and visitors can move within a reasonable length of time across the lough and really both ferries should have been available and operational on these holidays.
“I am glad this accident was only a minor one. I understand that the ferry had been loaded up with vehicles and passengers and that they all had to disembark onshore again and faced a delay.”