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For the third time in less than a month, a Red Fun­nel car ferry has been in col­li­sion with plea­sure boats, this time caus­ing the 32ft yacht Grey­lag to sink in Cowes Har­bour.

The Mar­itime and Coast­guard Agency (MCA) and the Ma­rine Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch (MAIB) have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter which hap­pened just af­ter 8am on 21 Oc­to­ber in heavy fog and in­volved the 4,128-tonne Red Fal­con.

Red Fun­nel has said it is look­ing at its pro­ce­dures for op­er­at­ing in lim­ited vis­i­bil­ity. The mas­ter and mate of the ferry have since been sus­pended, which Red Fun­nel said was ‘nor­mal pro­ce­dure’.

The MCA and the MAIB were al­ready look­ing into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the col­li­sion be­tween Red Fal­con and a 31ft mo­tor yacht Phoenix at Cal­shot Spit in the So­lent at 4.40pm on 29 Septem­ber, which left two boaters in­jured.

The lat­est in­ci­dent re­sulted in Red Fal­con ground­ing in Cowes Har­bour. It was later re­floated by tugs and docked at East Cowes where pas­sen­gers and their ve­hi­cles were al­lowed to dis­em­bark.

The MCA said ini­tially there were re­ports of cries for help in Cowes Har­bour, prompt­ing the launch of both the Cowes and Cal­shot RNLI lifeboats, and a coast­guard search and res­cue he­li­copter. Coast­guard Res­cue Teams from Bem­bridge, Nee­dles and Vent­nor were also de­ployed.

Noth­ing was found, and it was later dis­cov­ered that the cries were from a yacht owner who was on­board his ves­sel and was try­ing to alert the mas­ter of the car ferry of its po­si­tion to the moored craft.

Red Fal­con un­der­went an ini­tial in­spec­tion by MCA sur­vey­ors be­fore be­ing al­lowed to sail, with­out pas­sen­gers, to Southamp­ton for a more de­tailed sur­vey.

The CEO of Red Fun­nel, Fran Collins, apol­o­gised for the dis­rup­tion and stressed that the safety of pas­sen­gers and crew were al­ways given ‘the high­est pri­or­ity.’

Photos of the stranded Red Fal­con were shared widely on so­cial me­dia, with many ques­tion­ing the num­ber of re­cent in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Red Fun­nel.

On 27 Septem­ber, the Red Ea­gle, while de­part­ing East Cowes for Southamp­ton in fog, en­tered Cowes Har­bour’s small craft moor­ing area.

The ferry hit a num­ber of moored yachts, caus­ing them to be ripped from their moor­ings. They were later re­cov­ered and towed to Shep­ards Ma­rina for in­spec­tion.

The Cowes Har­bour Com­mis­sion is in­ves­ti­gat­ing this in­ci­dent and the ground­ing of Red Fal­con on 21 Oc­to­ber.

Any­one who wit­nessed the in­ci­dent on 21 Oc­to­ber are asked to con­tact MCA In­ves­ti­ga­tions and En­force­ment Unit via email at en­force­ment. [email protected] leav­ing their con­tact de­tails. Wit­nesses to the 29 Septem­ber event should con­tact the MCA’s Paula Evans on 020 381 72574 quot­ing ‘Red Fun­nel Yacht In­ci­dent’.

...which pro­ceeded to run aground

Moored boats were dam­aged (left) when Red Fun­nel’s MV Red Ea­gle left the in­ner fair­way dur­ing fog. The mo­tor yacht Phoenix suf­fered struc­tural dam­age (right)

The 32-foot yacht Grey­lag sank af­ter it was hit by the ferry...

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