Letter: How long must we go on with this ‘sub-standard vessel’?

After the failure of the prow chain on the floating bridge on Friday night, Colin McCourt asks how much longer we must go on with this “sub-standard vessel”?

Broken Chain 02

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from Colin McCourt of East Cowes. Ed

So, the Cowes floating bridge has yet another problem. However, this is not a “simple” matter of electrical problems, noise etc.

Oh no, this is much more serious. There has been a failure of the south chain on the west (Cowes) prow of the floating bridge.

This occurred mid-stream and caused the prow to drop. Now this problem is serious as the chains are load bearing and to have failed in this manner is very serious.

Will we told the truth?
Whether the chain snapped (claimed by some on board) or was a failure of the winching mechanism is something that we may, or may not, be told about.

Given that the council failed to communicate the removal of the floating bridge service for over 12 hours we may never find out.

However, I believe that this is a serious issue and throws into doubt the other three chains which are of identical construction.

Marine Accident Investigation Branch notified
The council have stated that the bridge will be back in service by Monday. However I believe that the Marine Accident Investigation Branch need to know of this serious failure, and I have informed them of the incident.

I have also informed the council and council officers that the MAIB has been informed. We need to ensure that this bridge is built to standard and that sufficient load checking has been carried out.

Floating bridge with missing prow chain

This must bring into question whether ANY load testing has been carried out correctly and the safe use of the bridge must be questioned.

How long must we go on with this “sub-standard vessel” before the – in my view – intransigent council leader and his officers open their eyes and realise they have a dead duck?

Someone may get hurt if another chain fails/snaps. What would our Council leader have to say then?

Image: Floating bridge at night © the excellent Ferry Spy

Sunday, 4th February, 2018 12:10pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2g1d

Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Letter to the Editor

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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17 Comments on "Letter: How long must we go on with this ‘sub-standard vessel’?"

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Surely we’re beyond the point of no return on this? Who would ever plan a journey with it? I’d always be thinking it’s going to stop, or we won’t be told when it’s on our not, it my car will get damaged, or some new calamity will befall it. Confidence will only be restored with a different vessel.

Simon Perry
profoundlife raises a vital point here. By the senior staff at the council not providing a full solution to the craft’s problems, the current floating bridge is associated with failure and has become cemented in people’s minds as either not running, or certainly not reliable – despite the hard work of the crew who are on board. This is a fatal error and will see the once-healthy… Read more »
I share a sense of profound amazement and incredulity at the progress of this utter fiasco, compounded further by the numbers of respondents who disapprove of the involvement of MAIB and other valid criticisms of this sorry saga. There would appear to be an uncanny loyalty being shown to the floundering incompetent leadership of IWCC, in the nature of an organised pressure group, possibly political. Objectivity is… Read more »

I find it utterly astonishing that so many people would disagree with Simon’s very valid point. In fact there has been many such instances of very strange down-voting of late.


I’m genuinely intrigued by the downvotes. The current situation can’t be one anyone wants. But the downvotes mount up without any comment offering another perspective. Is it Russian meddling?!


I’m thinking it’s more Western Wight rather than Eastern European. Would love to see the IP logs.


Not so sure… incomes plummet, service becomes nonviable, service gets discontinued, sell the bridge for peanuts and claim its all the Independants fault just in time for the next local elections.

Its only paranoia if its wrong.

It’s more than building confidence. Without a bridge that will work, no one should have confidence in it. In other words, if it did work, eventually people would trust it more. But it only works well when there are no obstacles – when few pedestrians and cars use it, and there are mild tides and little river traffic. (Still noisy of course). Otherwise there are fewer crossings… Read more »

Return to sender ‘Unfit For Purpose’

The Council was never prepared to take on a large-scale engineering project. Now we have a floating bridge plagued with problems. It must be frequent, reliable, safe, constant, long hours of operation, and not interfere with river traffic. This floating bridge will never achieve that, because some of the design decision (eg to make it bigger) means it takes more time to load and unload, therefore by… Read more »
I think the blame for most of this lies with the council, ‘lets have something bigger that we can make more money with’ they would have given the size etc required to the Marine Architects who would have produced the drawings / plans, the council would have then had to sign these off, then they were passed to the shipyard who built what they were asked to… Read more »
I agree. I live in Ryde and had to get to the Redjet terminal the other day. It never even occurred to me to consider the chain ferry (though this was when it was apparently working OK.) I simply cannot understand why anybody is still trying to make this pile of excrement work. Scrap it and get a new one, designed by a person/company that knows what… Read more »
I do not believe it

Colin McCourt is absolutely right to inform the MAIB. The sooner a group of professionals get their teeth into this interminable Floaty farce the better. I look forward to reading the MAIB report.
Let’s face it, we have inherited a substandard vessel being mismanaged by a substandard IW Council.

How long must we go on with this ‘sub-standard vessel’? Until Dave Stewart next attends a board meeting at the SLEP. If he enquires into the original decision making he will discover that fixed Medina crossings were never considered in detail, only comparative impacts of replacing FB5 vs no replacement. Hopefully he will decline to accept FB6 on the grounds that it is not fit for the… Read more »
The latest fiasco, would you buy a car on the mainland if you had to wait for a mechanic to travel from wales to repair it. Only an idiot would do so. For over 100 years skilled engineers on the Isle of wight have repaired it. Councillors who have no experience are making life changing decisions they apparently believe we dont have skilled workers to do the… Read more »

The Welsh mechanic will be getting a speeding ticket then – he was on site in about 30 mins apparently.
There hasnt been any announcement about Red Funnel taking it over from any officials either.
Checking your facts – priceless. For everything else, theres Mastercard.


In reading of the noise problem:
What is the noise ? Is it the dragging of the prow on the slipway ?
Is there a bang when the prow drops down… or what ?