Saturday, July 22, 2017

Isle of Man trips from Whitehaven cancelled at short notice

For thirty years the ferry MV Balmoral has run an annual series of summer day trips from Whitehaven to the Isle of Man. These have always been extremely popular.

Those trips should have been running today: they were planned for the three day period from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd July 2017

However, at less than two week's notice the  Maritime and Coastguard Agency refused to give permission for the "International trip" to go ahead.

The short voyage is at no time close to being out of sight of land, and the Isle of Man is a UK Crown dependency, but the voyage is technically classed as an international one.

The agency was less than forthcoming about the reasons for the ban but hinted at safety concerns.

They apologised for the short notice but appeared to blame the operator, White Funnel limited, saying "operators are encouraged to apply in good time and before making other commitments."

Since this service had been running for thirty years I must confess to raising an eyebrow - if there really are safety issues, which I do not have the information to judge, why did they not come up before?

And if the MV Balmoral is not safely able to carry passengers on a trip from Whitehaven to the Isle of Man, is it safe to carry passengers anywhere?

The journey may technically be an international one but it's probably less dangerous than a trip from Southampton to the Isle of Wight (because there is less chance of hitting other maritime traffic.)

I hope that whatever the issues were, they can be resolved in good time and the service resumed in 2018.

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