500 stranded after ferry crash
Almost 500 passengers were stranded on a ferry for around three hours after it struck the quay as it approached a major British port and started to let in water, Thames Coastguard has said.
The ferry Sirena Seaways, with 489 passengers on board, hit the quay at Parkeston near Harwich in Essex just after noon on Saturday, but the water it was taking on was "quickly stopped" and it arrived safely at nearby Harwich International Port at 2.45pm. There were no reported injuries and no reported pollution.
Thames Coastguard was contacted just after midday with reports that Sirena Seaways had been damaged. At first the vessel was taking on water, but this was soon stopped and the water level was brought under control, said the coastguard.
The Walton Coastguard Rescue Team, the Harwich RNLI lifeboat, the harbour launch boat, the search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham were sent to the scene, along with a number of other nearby vessels and tugs that went to assist. At 2.45pm the ferry was brought alongside at Harwich International Port and all of the passengers on board disembarked.
Aimee Rampton, Watch Manager at Thames Coastguard said: "Thames Coastguard assisted Harwich International Port with the co-ordination of this incident. We had a very successful outcome today, 489 people onboard and no injuries incurred."
Sirena Seaways is part of the ferry operator DFDS Seaways which travels to France, the Netherlands and Denmark. DFDS Seaways said in a statement: "We can confirm that Sirena Seaways sustained some damage on entering the port at Harwich."
It added: "We would like to apologise to passengers for any inconvenience caused to their travel plans."
Chief Inspector Nick Lee from Essex Police said: "Essex Police responded to the incident along with other members of the emergency services. We worked closely with DFDS, the Port of Harwich authorities and the coastguard. The boat was redocked and the passengers were able to disembark."
Thames Coastguard said the wind speed at the time of the incident was from force 5 - 7 (18 - 38mph).
Billy Payne, a forecaster at Meteogroup, described the gusts as "unseasonably windy but not exceptional". She added: "Gusts have approached 40mph in Essex. Pretty blustery for the time of year."