P&O halts Liverpool to Dublin sailings

Three Liverpool to Dublin freight vessels operated by P&O Ferries have been ordered to cease operations ahead of an announcement by the company later on Thursday. Tony McDonough reports

Norbank, the Liverpool to Dublin cargo ferry in the Mersey. Picture by HowardLiverpool


P&O Ferries has paused all of its services on Thursday, including sailings between Liverpool and Dublin, “in preparation for a company announcement”

In a statement, the P&O Ferries insisted it was not going into liquidation but ordered all of its ferries to remain in port. Today it was scheduled to operate three sailings between Liverpool and Dublin and 14 between Dover and Calais.

As of late Thursday morning two of its Liverpool to Dublin vessels, Norbay and Norbank, were moored in Gladstone Dock in the Port of Liverpool. A third ship, Stena Forecaster, is already in the Irish Sea and is due to dock at Liverpool in the next few hours.

A P&O Ferries spokesperson said: “P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation. We have asked all ships to come alongside, in preparation for a company announcement. Until then, services from P&O will not be running and we are advising travellers of alternative arrangements.”

In a tweet, the company added: “Regretfully, P&O Ferries services are unable to run for the next few hours. our port teams will guide you and travel will be arranged via an alternative operator. We apologise for the inconvenience this will have on your journey plans.”

READ MORE: Ships on the Mersey today

And the BBC is reporting that the company has sent a message to its staff, telling them the announcement “will secure the long-term viability of P&O Ferries” They say it  has the backing of Dubai-based DP World, which bought the ferry company for £322m in 2019.

In response the RMT union, which represents hundreds of UK seafarers, said it feared the company was planning to replace its UK employees with seafarers from overseas.

Boat Watch
An image from the Boat Watch app showing Norbay and Norbank in port in Liverpool


General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are deeply disturbed by growing speculation that the company are today planning to sack hundreds of UK seafarers and replace them with foreign labour.

“We have instructed our members to remain on board and are demanding that our members across P&O’s UK operations are protected and that the Secretary of State intervenes to save UK seafarers from the dole queue.”

P&O is one of two operators running freight services between Liverpool and Dublin. Seatruck also runs ups to three services a day between the two ports using a number of vessels, including Clipper Point, Seatruck Progress and Seatruck Power.

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