HSC Condor Liberation
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|Owner:||2010-2014: Austal Ships Pty Ltd, 2014 onwards: Condor Ferries|
|Port of registry:||Nassau, Bahamas|
|Route:||Poole-Guernsey-Jersey-Guernsey-Poole with a Connecting Service in Guernsey or Jersey to St. Malo|
|Builder:||Austal, Henderson, Australia|
|In service:||27 March 2015|
|Identification:||IMO number: 9551363|
|Type:||High Speed Vessel (Trimaran)|
|Length:||102 m (335 ft)|
|Beam:||27.95 m (91.7 ft)|
|Propulsion:||3 x 20 cyl MTU 20V8000M71L, 12,203bhp each at 1150rpm. Each engine 347.4 litres.|
|Speed:||39 knots (72 km/h; 45 mph)|
|Capacity:||800 passengers + crew|
HSC Condor Liberation is a fast ferry that was built by Austal Shipbuilders in Henderson, Western Australia. Previously named Austal Hull 270 and Condor 102, she entered service as HSC Condor Liberation with Channel Island ferry operator Condor Ferries on 27 March 2015.
Originally named Austal 102, she was launched in January 2010 at the Austal shipyard in Henderson and was laid up at the shipyard for four years before a new owner was found. Rumours were that the ship was to enter service with Euroferries, operating a 75-minute service between Ramsgate in the United Kingdom and Boulogne-sur-Mer in France. She was due to be handed over to Euroferries in January 2013 and enter service in February 2013 but the service failed to materialise and the ship remained in Austal's hands.
In 2014, Condor Ferries extended their agreement to run Channel Island services until 2020 and subsequently negotiated the purchase of the Austal Hull 270, which they named Condor Liberation. The vessel operates out of Poole on the Dorset coast and has operated services to the Channel Islands since March 2015.
Collision in Guernsey
On Saturday 28 March 2015, the day after she entered official commercial service, Condor Liberation hit the quayside in Guernsey in strong winds. The collision caused damage to her hull which prevented further use of the vessel until repaired, and she was taken, out of service, to Poole where the damage was repaired. Passengers had to wait for Commodore Clipper to take them back to the UK, albeit to Portsmouth instead of Poole.
A report on the collision was published on 27 May 2015, and concluded that the fendering on the berth was insufficient for high speed craft, and ruling out any wrongdoing of the ship's crew.
Issues in service
Condor Liberation has received numerous reports from passengers about the vessel's rolling characteristics. Notably an incident on 18 May 2015 prompted in excess of 50 reports of "Corkscrewing" in two metre seas on her evening sailing from Guernsey to Poole. This included a video filmed on board at the time of the incident clearly showing Condor Liberation listing heavily. Condor later reiterated the safety of the vessel noting the important difference between safety (and stability) and ride comfort.
Amid reports of ride problems and procedures for passenger embarkation (involving embarking via car desks for foot passengers), it was reported that the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency would launch an investigation into the vessel's suitability to operate in the waters of the English Channel. It was later claimed by Condor that the MCA would not be launching an investigation, and would instead "follow up this matter with the flag state and the owners, to address the concerns being raised". In the end, the MCA investigated the vessel.
Condor has so far has remained mainly quiet on the issues surrounding Condor Liberation. The Guernsey External Transport Group requested a meeting with Condor to discuss the ongoing safety concerns and punctuality of the new vessel, which concluded with the Head of the Transport Group, Deputy Kevin Stewart, advising the public to "stop putting the boot in on Condor". Public outcry for this followed.
Reactions from the Channel Islands
In light of the recent events with Condor Liberation, Guernsey's harbourmaster, noted as a former Condor Ferries employee by the local media, suggested in a media interview that members of the public "retrain their stomachs" for the vessel's ride. He later confirmed that his remark was taken out of context, and was, in fact, referring to the difference in riding behaviour between the older catamaran HSCs to which the public were accustomed and those of the new trimaran vessel.
Doug Bannister, Ports of Jersey chief executive, said they had been "inundated" with complaints about Condor, adding that they were currently reviewing parts of the operating agreement. He commented "What is important to make certain is that the travelling public in Jersey feel safe and it is a service that the Island wants".
- "AUTO EXPRESS 102" (PDF). austal.com. Austal. p. 2.
- "Condor Ferries | Introducing the new Condor Ferries logo | 102". 102.condorferries.co.uk. 31 January 2015. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Condor Ferries | 5 - require meta title | 102". 102.condorferries.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "'Better fenders needed', says Condor after hit « Guernsey Press". Guernseypress.com. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Should 'corkscrewing' ferry have sailed? ask passengers « Guernsey Press". Guernseypress.com. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Allegations that Condor Liberation could capsize are 'sensationalist and factually incorrect' « Jersey Evening Post". Jerseyeveningpost.com. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "UK Maritime Agency is to look into Liberation sailings « Guernsey Press". Guernseypress.com. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Stop putting the boot in on Condor, says minister « Guernsey Press". Guernseypress.com. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Condor 'were happy before with fenders' - Harbourmaster defends facilities in wake of criticism « Jersey Evening Post". Jerseyeveningpost.com. Retrieved 31 May 2016.