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UPDATED: Red Funnel’s Red Falcon ferry has now safely docked in East Cowes allowing investigations to get underway into this morning’s major incident – the running aground of the Isle of Wight passenger ferry.

Island Echo broke the now-worldwide news after the Ro-Ro ferry deviated from its usual course and ran aground just 50m off the shoreline at East Cowes Esplanade shortly after 08:00 this morning (Sunday).

In the process of running aground, Red Falcon hit and sunk a yacht leading to a major search and rescue operation. 3 Coastguard Rescue Teams from Bembridge, The Needles and Ventnor have all been involved in the incident, alongside lifeboats from Cowes RNLI and Calshot RNLI.

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Thanks to the assistance of a tug, the ferry has now been pulled clear from its predicament and has docked at the East Cowes ferry terminal. It is here that all passengers and crew have been able to disembark safely.

Fran Collins, Red Funnel’s CEO, has this lunchtime said:

“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.”

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Red Funnel’s Southampton-West Cowes Red Jet service is unaffected and foot passengers who normally travel via East Cowes are advised to use this service.

Island Echo is led to believe that the Captain and Crew of the vessel have all been breathalysed by Police, as is standard in marine accidents such as these. This forms just one part of the investigation now being launched by the Maritime Accident Incident Branch.

It was only a few weeks ago that the Red Falcon was involved in a collision with a motorboat off Calshot. Sister vessel Red Eagle collided with a number of boats in Cowes Harbour also.

The latest statement from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reads:

“HM Coastguard can confirm that 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 that the person was onboard his own vessel and crying out to try and 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”.

Any witnesses who saw the collision, the grounding and/or any passengers onboard the Red Falcon are requested to contact MCA Investigations and Enforcement Unit via email at  [email protected] leaving their contact details so that they can get in touch.

UPDATE @ 14:35 – The initial assessment of the Red Falcon has now been completed by MCA surveyors and the vessel is due to relocate to Southampton, without passengers, to undergo further inspections.

Once the in water survey has been given the all clear, the vessel will then be able to return to passenger service.

The Red Falcon is being accompanied by two tug escorts as a precautionary measure.

A MCA surveyor is onboard for the short duration of the journey.

UPDATE @ 22:24 – Red Funnel have confirmed that an inspection of the vessel has not located any damage and therefore a normal timetabled service will be in operation tomorrow (Monday).

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