A serious accident on board a Cairnryan ferry could have easily become a tragedy because of lorry drivers’ illegal habit of staying in their cabs during crossings between the port and Northern Ireland.
A Marine Accident Investigation Branch report into the December 2018 incident published this week also criticised ferry operators P&O over the near-disasterous toppling of nine HGVs in high winds.
The report reveals that six lorry drivers were still in their cabs - against international regulations - when the calamity occured, leaving one of them trapped and requiring emergency rescue when the vessel docked at Cairnryan.
The accident report noted that the practice of drivers staying in their cabs while at sea was not uncommon in the industry.
It was also a practice that could prove fatal.
Criticisms of P&O were made by Andrew Moll, chief inspector of marine accidents, who stated that weather conditions had “not been sufficiently considered” when setting the course of the ship, nor when applying lashings to freight vehicles loaded aboard.
He said: “The investigation further highlighted the problem of freight drivers remaining in their cabs on the vehicle deck when the ferry is at sea,
“Drivers remaining in their vehicles not only put themselves at risk, but they also place at risk other passengers and anyone who may have to rescue them.
“Perhaps, most importantly, crucial emergency responses, such as to a fire, can be delayed until all passengers are accounted for.”
Commenting on the report, P&O said it accepted the recommendations of the MAIB “in full”, adding that the company had already updated its safety rules.