Damaged Irish Ferries Ship Undergoes Repairs in Belfast

By: Steven Tarbox
Irish Ferries W.B. YEATS seen in Belfast undergoing repair on 14.03.22. Image: Steven Tarbox.
Irish Ferries W.B. YEATS seen in Belfast undergoing repair on 14.03.22. Image: Steven Tarbox.

Irish Ferries’ W.B. YEATS arrived in Belfast earlier this week for repairs.   The 2019-built Ro-Pax ferry sustained damage in rough seas off the south west coast of England during one of her regular crossings from Dublin to Cherbourg last Saturday. 

As can be seen in our images from Monday afternoon, the upper vehicle deck bow door was damaged.

While the exact circumstances are unclear, uncredited footage that has appeared online shows the sea breaching and deforming the reinforced steel upper vehicle deck door.  As is normal in such situations, the ship returned to port rather than continuing her journey.  An amount of water was taken on but was dealt with by the ships’ systems.

W.B. YEATS returned to her original port of departure, Dublin, rather than a closer port which would have been more inconvenient for passengers.  Vehicles were unloaded through the lower vehicle deck bow door only with the now deformed upper door presumably out of action.  It is normal for watertight doors is to remain closed if damaged.  It seems unlikely the badly damaged door could have been opened anyhow. Passengers were then re-routed to alternative sailings.  After relevant preparations were made, the ship left Dublin for Belfast.

Prior to W.B. YEATS leaving Dublin for France, Stena Line had already cancelled its Rosslare – Cherbourg sailing for the same day citing weather conditions. On the same evening Brittany Ferries COTENTIN was noted to be taking a longer and more sheltered route to France than usual.  Irish Ferries has stated that the weather conditions turned out to be “heavier” than forecast.

In a statement published by the Daily Post, Irish Ferries has described the damage as minor:

“Irish Ferries can confirm that Saturday’s W.B. Yeats sailing from Dublin to Cherbourg was impacted by heavier weather than forecast which caused some minor damage on the upper car deck. The ship returned to Dublin, which is the normal protocol when these events happen. Irish Ferries rerouted passengers impacted, and apologise for the weather related disruption.”


Epsilon switches to Ireland – France route

With W.B. YEATS off service for the foreseeable future, EPSILON has moved to the Dublin – Cherbourg route in her place.  This leaves ULYSSES and the recently reintroduced DUBLIN SWIFT fast-craft to cover Irish Ferries’ Dublin – Holyhead route.

EPSILON. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
EPSILON. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

It is currently unclear how long W.B. YEATS will be off service, but it appears that a replacement upper vehicle deck bow door will need to be fabricated.  The original door has already been removed at Harland & Wolff, but a replacement will likely have to be built from scratch.  

As a result of this, a steel sheet has been welded over the opening instead.  While W.B. YEATS should have no issues sailing with her upper bow door out of use, it is likely that turnaround times will increase as a result.

W.B. YEATS is the newest ship in the Irish Ferries fleet and their flagship Ireland to France ferry.  She was completed by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft in late-2019, and entered service with Irish Ferries early in 2020.  She has capacity for 1,800 passengers and up to 2,800 lane metres of freight.  

For further information on W.B YEATS, please see her profile page here.

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