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Ferry collides with yachts off Isle of Wight

Ferry collides with yachts off Isle of Wight Photo: Island Echo

Just after 8 o'clock this morning HM Coastguard received reports the Red Falcon Ferry had collided with at least two yachts whilst trying to dock in Cowes Harbour during heavy fog.

There were also unconfirmed reports of cries for help from the area.

RNLI crews from Cowes and Calshot have joined Coastguard rescue teams from Bembridge, Needles and Ventnor in an extensive search.

A Coastguard search and rescue helicopter was also involved but due to the weather it had to turn back.

The ferry, with 56 people onboard, remains grounded at the entrance at Cowes. All are said to be safe and well.

“The 07.00 vehicle ferry sailing from Southampton to East Cowes came into contact with several small yachts whilst entering Cowes Harbour at 08.00 this morning (21/10/18) in dense fog.

The ship (Red Falcon) is currently aground but is watertight and no injuries have been sustained to any of the 40 passengers on-board.

There are no reports of any injuries to anyone who was involved in the incident.

Attempts to refloat the vessel are currently underway on a falling tide. If this proves unsuccessful, a further attempt will be made at the next High Tide."

– Spokesperson, Red Funnel

Cowes Harbour is currently closed to all traffic.

“Red Falcon, the ferry involved in the grounding incident in East Cowes this morning in dense fog has now been refloated and is safely alongside. Passengers and vehicles are currently being discharged at East Cowes.

This ship will now be subject to a detailed inspection and is not expected to return to service today. A revised vehicle ferry timetable will operate between Southampton and East Cowes.

Our staff are contacting customers booked to travel today to offer them alternative sailings.

On behalf of Red Funnel, I would like to apologise to all passengers who have been disrupted by this incident, and emphasise that we give the safety of our passengers and crew the highest priority.”

– Fran Collins, CEO Red Funnel

At 11:21am The Coastguard updated the situation off East Cowes;

"HM Coastguard can confirm there is nobody in the water or missing in Cowes Harbour. HM Coastguard has made contact with the person who was initially heard crying for help and he is reported to be safe and well. We have established the person was onboard his own vessel and crying out to try to alert the master of the ferry of the situation.

The Red Falcon, with assistance of tugs, has been refloated and is now in the process of going alongside in East Cowes where MCA surveyors will make an assessment of the vessel.

All passengers remain safe and well and will disembark when the vessel is safely alongside."

– HM Coastguard

Any witnesses who saw the collision, the grounding and/or any passengers onboard the Red Falcon are asked to contact MCA Investigations and Enforcement Unit via email at enforcement.unit@mcga.gov.uk leaving their contact details.