P&O Ferries has been forced to cancel Easter weekend sailings between Dover and Calais after a ship failed a safety inspection for a second time.
The Pride of Kent will remain detailed alongside Spirit of Britain after inspectors from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reportedly found safety and crew “deficiencies”.
An MCA spokesperson said: “The Pride of Kent will remain detained following the re-inspection of the ferry which found a number of additional deficiencies including safety systems and crew documentation.
“We have advised P&O to invite us back once they have addressed the issues. We do not know yet when this will be.”
The decision came a day after Dover-based Spirit of Britain also failed a safety inspection.
P&O Ferries confirmed via Twitter that passenger services on the short sea route between the UK and France would be suspended this weekend.
“We sincerely apologise,” the company said, warning that rival DFDS was not able to take its passengers.
“For travel 15-18 April please re-book with another operator before arriving at the port. DFDS are not able to transfer PO customers onto their ships.
“We will provide a full refund of your ticket. We will also pay back the difference in cost between your P&O Ferries ticket and your new booking with another operator.”
The company, owned by Dubai-based DC World, has faced criticism from government after sacking almost 800 seafarers with no notice last month and replaced them with lower paid crew.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps warned of delays on roads, at ports and airports over an “extremely busy” Easter holiday weekend.
He told the BBC: “I think certainly this weekend will be extremely busy on our roads, potentially at our ports, of course, particularly at Dover, where P&O disgracefully sacked all of their staff and then attempted to run ships which wouldn’t have been safe with the replacement below-minimum wage staff they tried to hire quickly.”
A P&O Ferries spokesperson told The Times: We take the safety of our passengers and crew very seriously and look forward to our sips welcoming tourist passengers and freight customers again as soon as all mandatory safety tests have been passed.”
The company has resumed services on the Irish Sea between Cairnryan and Larne and a route between Hull and Rotterdam.