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Condor refuses to answer questions on new vessel

Condor refuses to answer questions on new vessel

Monday 28 June 2021

Condor refuses to answer questions on new vessel


Condor Ferries has refused to answer questions about the operational limits and manoeuvrability of its new vessel, after the Voyager was unable to berth on its first scheduled sailing to Guernsey.

The Voyager - on loan from Condor's minority shareholder Brittany Ferries - was meant to arrive on Monday 21 June, but passengers were left waiting on the dock.

Requests for an explanation were unacknowledged by senior officers, listed as alternative points of contact in the absence of the ferry company's communications manager. 

Replying on Friday, the comms manager stated: "Voyager was unable to berth on Monday due to weather conditions which were outside of safe operating limits plus a technical problem. She was in earlier this morning though [Friday] so all good."

In response to further questions about what the technical issue was, as well as the high-speed ferry's manoeuvrability and its operational ability, he replied: "We have nothing to add to what has already been said."

Express responded, asking: "Does the vessel have bow thrusters? What are the safe operating limits for the vessel?" In reply, the communications manager stated: "I am sorry but I can’t help you with this one."

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Pictured: The ship's specifications, according to the Brittany Ferries website. 

Thrusters apply lateral propulsion to manoeuvre a boat's bow in a sideways direction. They help counter the forces of wind and tidal current when manoeuvring in close quarters.

The website of manufacturers Incat states that the ship does not have bow thrusters in order to "bring savings in weight, hull drag and a quieter ride at sea", saying that the wave piercing catamaran "can make a 360 degree turn in its own length", although this has not been confirmed by the ferry company.

Condor announced in April that it would be using the Normandie Express - rebranded since as Voyager - during the summer season to increase capacity and to provide services between the Channel Islands, the UK and France. 

Questions have been raised after its very first sailing to Guernsey had to be aborted because it was unable to berth.

When it was first brought into service with Condor, the catamaran was described as a "longer version" of the Condor Rapide. However, early parallels were drawn with fellow fast-ferry Liberation, after the Voyager hit a concrete dolphin during sea trials in Jersey.

On just its second day in service, the Condor Liberation struck the jetty at St Peter Port Harbour. Following repairs and its return to service, the vessel suffered from a range of mechanical issues which disrupted sailings. 

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Pictured: Bow thrusters have been described as "essential" to manoeuvring ships in Guernsey's Harbour. They help counter the forces of wind and tidal current.

In May 2015, Liberation Day sailings were cancelled because it was awaiting spare parts for a faulty bow thruster. The bow thrusters were described by the ferry company at the time as "essential" to manoeuvring. 

In June of that year, it was announced by former politician Kevin Stewart that replacement bow thrusters were now held as a "spares stock item", to help facilitate repairs en route rather than taking the vessel out of service every time a fault occurs. 

Pictured top: The Condor Voyager, which is being used by the ferry company this summer. 

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