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August 20, 2005

U.K. restores Wightlink Fast Cat certification

Britain's Maritime & Coastguard Agency is allowing Wightlink to resume operations with two of its four fast ferries.

On Thursday, the agency withdrew the ISM Document of Compliance and Safety Management Certificates for four fast catamarans operated by Wightlink between Portsmouth on the U.K. mainland and Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Fastcat Ryde

Fastcat Shanklin

Our Lady Patricia

Our Lady Pamela

On Friday evening, the MCA issued a statement saying:

As of 18.00 hrs today (Friday 19th August 2005), the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) working closely with Wightlink, has received satisfactory documentary evidence from the company that has addressed the MCA's principal concerns regarding the operation of their fast ferries.

A joint decision has been made therefore between Wightlink and the MCA that 'Fast Cat Ryde' and `Fast Cat Shanklin' may resume normal service.

Short term interim certification has been issued to the company and the situation will be monitored closely before a decision is reached regarding full term certification.

The decision to pull the certificates came after the MCA discovered that there had been two unreported engine-room fires on May 12 and 13 on board one of the fast ferries, identified in one press report as the Lady Pamela.

The MCA began an investigation "which reached a significant point of conclusion on August 17, that conclusion being that the failure of the company's ISM Safety Management System was not tolerable."

The two ferries whose certification has now been restored, Fastcat Ryde and Fastcat Shanklin, were built in 1995 by Kvaerner Fjellstrand (S), Singapore, as Water Jet 1 and Waterjet 2. In 1999 they were renamed Supercat 17 and Supercat 18. The following year they were sold to Wightlink for use between Portsmouth and Ryde. Each carries 361 passengers and has a speed of 34 knots.

Our Lady Patricia and Our Lady Pamela were built by International Catamarans, Hobart, Tasmania, for Sealink UK in 1986 for operation between Portsmouth and Ryde. They were transferred to Wightlink in 2000. Each carries 395 passengers and has a speed of 29 knots.

According to local media reports, Our Lady Patricia has been "withdrawn from service as extra performance restrictions brought in meant she couldn't meet service speed," while Our Lady Pamela "has engine problems."

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