UPDATED: The Red Funnel ferry has run aground in East Cowes this morning (Sunday), coming to a hard stop just 50m off the shore – and rescue teams are currently searching for persons in the water as cries for help have been heard.
Red Falcon is sitting out of the water within throwing distance of East Cowes Esplanade and inside the old breakwater.
Meanwhile, Search and Rescue teams including Cowes RNLI Lifeboat, Ventnor Coastguard Rescue Team and Bembridge Coastguard Rescue Team are searching the local area as cries for help have been heard and a yacht has been found in a sunken state.
The fog is thought to be a key element in this morning’s incident, with the blanket becoming thicker by the minute.
UPDATE @ 09:16 – Red Funnel are advising of 60 minute delays to their East Cowes to Southampton service due to the adverse weather.
It remains unclear at this moment in time how long the vessel will remain in-situ for and what the arrangements are for the 50+ people on board.
UPDATE @ 10:20 – The fog is beginning to lift, revealing the full extent of the situation. Red Falcon remains hard aground and is at anchor.
Red Funnel have not issued a statement on the matter as of yet.
UPDATE @ 10:34 – It has been confirmed that 56 people are on board the ferry, but they are said to be safe and well.
A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said:
“Just after 8am today (Sunday 21 October) HM Coastguard received reports that the Red Falcon Ferry had collided with at least two yachts whilst trying to berth at the entrance of Cowes Harbour during heavy fog.
“At around the same time we received a 999 call from a member of the public reporting that he’d heard cries for help within Cowes Harbour.
“We are currently carrying at an extensive search of the area with Cowes RNLI lifeboat, Calshot RNLI lifeboats and Coastguard Rescue Teams from Bembridge, Needles and Ventnor. A Coastguard search and rescue helicopter was searching the area but due to the low visibility in the area had to turn back.
“The ferry with 56 persons onboard remains grounded at the entrance at Cowes. Those persons onboard are safe and well.“The search is ongoing and we have no further information at this stage”.
UPDATE @ 10:57 – A major incident has been declared, Island Echo understands.
3 Coastguard Rescue Teams, 2 lifeboats and a Senior Coastguard officer are all involved in this incident. Police and paramedics – including operational commanders – are now also on scene.
UPDATE @ 11:22 – The Red Falcon ferry has been pulled clear from the mud and has now safely docked at the East Cowes ferry terminal.
All passengers and vehicles have disembarked the vessel.
Red Funnel have issued a statement, which reads:
“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.
“Cowes Harbour is currently closed to all traffic. Further updates to follow.”
UPDATE @ 11:38 – HM Coastguard have issued an updated statement.
“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 we can get in touch”.
UPDATE @ 13:07 – Investigations by the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch are now underway.
Meanwhile, Red Funnel’s CEO has apologised to those affected by the disruption…