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New £6m Strangford ferry can't be used because of engineering blunder

A new - publicly owned and paid for - £6million boat has been described as nothing more than a "beautiful ornament" after an engineering blunder stopped it from entering service, it has been reported.

Testing revealed that ramps on the new purpose-built Strangford ferry can not lower properly in high tide meaning it needs modifications before it can enter service, the BBC reported.

It has meant that cars are unable to get off the vessel.

Stormont paid £5.7m for the ferry designed for use specifically on Strangford Lough.

The MV Strangford 2, was due to begin operating last summer, but will remain docked until the work to correct the issue is carried out.

It can take an hour and a half to travel from Strangford to Portaferry by road via Newtownards. The ferry crosses the mouth of the lough to the tip of the Ards Peninsula in minutes.

The loss of the vessel means only one ferry is in operation.

The ship’s builders, Birkenhead-based Cammell Laird, said it was built to the specifications provided by Stormont.

Strangford Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong told the BBC: “In the past year the one boat was out of service 35 times for breakdowns, which is why we need two boats.

“And yet here we have a new £6m boat moored up and not in service. All because someone in the department dropped the ball.

“We are left with a beautiful boat that is nothing more than a beautiful ornament.”

Department of Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard said work to correct the problem would cost between £10-15,000 and the boat would be back in service in “a few short weeks”.

The minister would not be drawn on who was to blame, citing commercial sensitivities.

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