As we mentioned earlier tonight on Twitter, and as was pointed our by VB reader Nigel Walsh on our Facebook wall, Hovertravel had to suspend their service. An official statement from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Hovertravel follow, in each of their own words. More to follow. Ed
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency Release: Issued 6.37pm
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has suspended Hovertravel’s ISM Document of Compliance which allows them to operate.
The effect of this is that the hovercraft ‘Freedom 90′ and ‘Island Express’ cannot operate.
Investigation into a propeller failure
We have taken this action because of safety concerns following an investigation into a propeller failure that occurred on a third craft which highlighted inconsistencies in their safety management systems, particularly with vessel maintenance.
Richard Pellew, Maritime and Coastguard Agency Area Operations Manager for the South East said, “We are working closely with Hovertravel and the propeller manufacturers to investigate the circumstances around the propeller failure.
Hovertravel responded positively
“Hovertravel’s management team has responded positively to our concerns and we will be working with them over the weekend to resolve the issues so these hovercraft can return to service as soon as possible”.
Hovertravel release: issued 8.51 pm
Hovertravel can confirm that they have suspended hovercraft services with effect from 18:00 today Friday 18th November.
Safety checks being undertaken
Following an issue with a propeller on the Solent Express Hovercraft on 30th October, further safety checks are to be undertaken to ensure the continued safety of Hovertravel’s fleet.
Hovertravel is working with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), the regulatory authority, and hopes to restore a full service as soon as possible.
Working with the MCA
It is important to stress that the current fleet of hovercraft are different models to the one in service on 30th October. As a mandatory measure we are required to ensure the integrity of all our operating systems in conjunction with the MCA.
The entire matter revolves around ensuring the safety of our operation. The safety of customers, crew & hovercraft are of paramount importance and Hovertravel are working with the MCA continually throughout this evening and the weekend to ensure the capability of the craft before they are returned to service.
Hovertravel satisfied craft are safe
This will involve working through a number of further checks now being implemented to ensure that not only the MCA, but Hovertravel are fully satisfied that our craft are safe to operate. We are confident that with the support of the entire Hovertravel team, and the MCA we will complete this process as quickly as we can.
We are currently working with Wightlink to accommodate our passengers who are already booked, to ensure they are able to cross the Solent this evening.
Deeply sorry for inconvenience
We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience this matter has caused our passengers, and are grateful for their understanding.
We will update our website www.hovertravel.com, and our terminal staff will be on duty as normal throughout the weekend to assist and update this situation.
It must be stressed we will only commence operations when Hovertravel and the MCA are entirely satisfied.