SCORES of passengers were stranded at Portsmouth’s port and 44 vehicles were stuck on a ferry because of a ramp breakdown aboard the ship.
Commodore Clipper arrived at Portsmouth International Port from St Peter Port in Guernsey about 7am this morning and the on-board ramp broke down.
Foot passengers were allowed off the Condor Ferries vessel but the vehicles’ drivers were told the ramp might not be fixed until the evening.
Condor engineers worked throughout the day to resolve the problem. They were supported by external contractors, and worked with the assistance of a specialist crane.
It wasn’t until 7.50pm tonight the remaining 44 vehicles were able to drive off.
A statement from Condor said many of the 110 passengers whose vehicles were on the upper deck chose to stay on board for the day, where complimentary food and drink was provided.
Others chose to leave the ship, returning to collect their vehicles once the ramp was repaired.
Condor expects to be able to operate Clipper’s next scheduled sailing on Monday.
Executive chairman, Russell Kew, who spent today at Condor’s Portsmouth terminal and on board
Commodore Clipper, said: ‘I’d like to apologise to all those customers who have been inconvenienced over the last 24 hours, and to thank them for their understanding and patience.
‘Having spent today in Portsmouth, members of the senior management team and I were able to answer customer questions, and support our staff in looking after all those who were affected. I’d like to thank our engineering, call centre, on board and port staff for their commitment to supporting our customers.’
It has been a bad couple of days for the ferry company, as Commodore Clipper’s sister ship was put out of action at St Peter Port yesterday.
Earlier today, executive director of operations, Captain Fran Collins, said: ‘After berthing in Portsmouth earlier this morning, Commodore Clipper developed a problem with the internal ramp.
‘Condor’s onboard engineering teams are working hard to get the ramp fixed as soon as possible, however, specialist contractors have been contacted, as the work is complex.
‘All passengers have been offered the opportunity to disembark, however no vehicles are able to leave the ferry at the moment.’
Captain Collins said staff were doing their best to help passengers with their onward travel arrangements.
‘Today’s Commodore Clipper sailing from Portsmouth to the Channel Islands has been cancelled, to allow for the necessary repairs to be completed and tested.
‘All passengers waiting to travel to the Channel Islands have been kept informed and offered refreshments.
‘With the cancellation of today’s sailing they are able to choose between a full refund or travel on the next available sailing. Where necessary, delayed passengers are being offered accommodation.’