In its latest string of bad luck, the Sandbanks Ferry, which was suspended from service due to a dramatic reduction in passenger numbers because of government coronavirus travel restrictions, has now sustained significant damage to its hull, while moored for safety in Poole Harbour.
The ferry company has just revealed that in the early hours of Friday 8th May 2020, a large piece of concrete unexpectedly detached from the fixed jetty and fell into the ferry.
Significant amount of damage to the hull
It says the ferry was not directly attached to or connected with this piece of concrete, but it has resulted in a small but significant amount of damage to the hull. At least one of the main prow hinge fixings is cracked and will need repair using a platform and scaffolding fixed to the deck of the ferry.
At least the beginning of June
In a blow to people in Swanage who need to return to work in Poole and Bournemouth, the company says that the ferry’s return to service has now been delayed until at least the beginning of June.
It’s currently awaiting Lloyd’s safety surveyor’s approval before the work can start, so as yet, there is no exact date for the return of service. It will also mean that day trippers will not be able to use the service.
Only piece of good news
The only piece of good news is that while the ferry remains out of service, the time will be used to carry out all the mandatory maintenance and refit work meaning that it won’t have to be withdrawn from service in November 2020 for its regular biennial refit and maintenance.
Commenting on this latest news, Mike Kean, Managing Director of The Sandbanks Ferry Company said:
“We were very disappointed to have to withdraw the service during this public health crisis. However, we are pleased to be able to carry out the November refit and maintenance work ahead of schedule. This will mean less disruption for businesses and residents in the busy run up to Christmas this year, which I hope will be welcome news.”
“The damage sustained by the jetty malfunction is incredibly frustrating, when we were expecting to return to service as soon as traffic volumes were back at a sustainable level. We are doing all we can, working with our contractors and suppliers, to get this rectified as soon as possible. Social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to, so we once again ask our customers for their patience while we carry out these unforeseen repair works under difficult conditions.”
The Sandbanks Ferry Company suspended its service on 21st April as a result of the government-directed lockdown. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in passenger numbers throughout April, finally reaching on average of less than two cars per hour before the decision was made to withdraw the service for environmental and economic reasons.