A safety survey found that three of the four worst performing ferries in Europe sail from British ports. The survey of 26 ferries by European motoring organizations gave the lowest rating to P&O European Ferries' "Pride of Rathlin," which sails from Cairnryan in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland.
P&O Portsmouth's "Pride of Hampshire
," which connects Portsmouth and Cherbourg, and SeaFrance's "SeaFrance Monet
," which sails from Dover to Calais, were also judged to have "poor" safety standards.
The "Oglasa" ferry, which connects Piombino and Portoferraio in Italy and is operated by Toremar, a subsidiary of Italian state-owned Tirrenia di Navigazione, was the fourth boat to be given a "poor" rating by the survey.
A spokesman for P&O slammed the report as "alarmist" and full of holes, saying safety was paramount on board P&O ships.
The survey was carried out by independent marine safety experts, who judged the ferries on criteria including emergency drills, cargo handling, fire equipment, lifejackets and lifeboats, bow door condition, construction and navigation systems.
Among the problems they routinely found were poor safety information for passengers, no keys for lockers containing lifebelts, locked safety doors and corroded and worn-out fire-fighting gear, the report said.