Road haulage group says injuries caused in ‘near Titanic’ incident
Ship’s master aboard Irish Ferries vessel accused of ‘sailing straight into the storm’
Irish Ferries has confirmed that several passengers required hospital treatment for injury incurred aboard one of its ships while sheltering off the British coast during Storm Imogen early this week.
The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) says several of its members also sustained broken ribs and a wrist in what it describes as a “near Titanic” situation and has accused the master of the vessel of “sailing straight into the storm”.
A total of 58 cars and almost 30 trucks were badly damaged when a trailer “broke loose” in the cargo hold during the heavy weather.
The Italian-registered ship Epsilon had left Cherbourg with 138 passengers and freight on Sunday and was due into Dublin port on Monday night.
It did not dock until lunchtime Tuesday, having sought shelter off the Devon coast.
The company says at least two people had injuries which required hospital attention. It says hotel accommodation was offered to all on board and use of rented cars and taxis was offered to people whose vehicles were damaged.
It confirmed that one of its life rafts was damaged and required a fibreglass repair in Holyhead, Wales, this week which was then inspected and cleared by the British authorities.
It said it was endeavouring to “establish and maintain” contact with all passengers on board and was advising on the situation regarding insurance claims.
Haulage association past president Eoin Gavin, who lost a truck, trailer and all his freight, was critical of the company’s handling of the incident and aftermath.
He said he was informed on Friday evening that the company was “not liable” for damage in his case.
He said his driver was “very traumatised” by the experience.
“Stena Line left Cherbourg an hour before Irish Ferries and told passengers that its arrival would be delayed until Tuesday as it would take a route that gave the option of shelter if it encountered the storm, then forecast,” said Mr Gavin.
“However, the Irish Ferries ship rounded Land’s End and went straight into storm force 11 conditions, giving little or no information to people on board,” he said.
Several IRHA drivers described the ship listing badly at one point and claim the master only sought shelter after the damage had occurred in the freight hold.
Irish Ferries could not comment on this, but said that the conditions eased to force five when the ship moved close to the Devon coast.
Mr Gavin said his company paid €20,000 in freight transport fees to Irish Ferries every month and he was very disappointed.
“If I didn’t have comprehensive insurance, I’d be really in trouble. And I feel for anyone who had only third-party insurance on their car,” said Mr Gavin.
“If I lost my bag on Ryanair I’d get better attention than I am experiencing now.”
Irish Ferries said on Friday night that it has asked its insurers to review each claim on a “case-by-case” basis and was notifying hauliers of this.
It said this decision was taken in view of the “particular and unprecedented circumstances” relating to the Storm Imogen incident.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board said that it appeared “at this point” that the incident was outside its remit.