Isle of Wight ferry captain and mate suspended after ship hits yachts

The master and mate of a car ferry that ran aground after hitting several yachts have been suspended.

The Red Falcon ran aground as it arrived at Cowes Harbour on the Isle of Wight during heavy fog at 8am on Sunday morning.

A spokeswoman for operator Red Funnel described the suspensions as “standard practice in any maritime incident of this nature”.

The firm’s chief executive, Fran Collins, said the boats involved in the collision were “unmanned, moored yachts” and no injuries were reported.

It is the second time Red Falcon has been involved in a collision in three weeks.

A harbour master inspects a submerged yacht in Cowes harbour after it was struck by Red Falcon (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A harbour master inspects a submerged yacht in Cowes Harbour after it was struck by the ferry Red Falcon (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The latest incident left 40 passengers stuck on board the ship until it was re-floated around three hours later.

Red Funnel said an inspection of Red Falcon found it was not damaged. It has since returned to service, with a normal timetable operated on Monday.

A Coastguard search and rescue helicopter was initially deployed to the area but had to turn back due to low visibility caused by heavy fog.

The Red Funnel car ferry leaves East Cowes on the Isle of Wight (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The Red Funnel car ferry leaves East Cowes on the Isle of Wight (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The UK Coastguard said the Cowes RNLI lifeboat, Calshot RNLI lifeboats and Coastguard rescue teams from Bembridge, Needles and Ventnor were involved in an “extensive search”.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) dispatched investigators on Sunday morning to begin gathering evidence.

Red Falcon is already being investigated by the MAIB over a collision with a motor cruiser off the coast of Calshot, Hampshire, on September 29.

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