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Abandon ship! Emergency exercise brings ferry operators together

1 November 2010 — 1 November 2011

Passers by Falmouth's Prince of Wales Pier were stopped in their tracks after seeing what looked like a ferry load of passengers abandoning a sinking ferry to its life raft.

What they actually saw was a joint exercise between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, who license the local passenger boats, and local ferry operators.

During the day different scenarios were practiced including testing man-over-board recovery methods with Falmouth Park & Float boat, Kingsley II, being used.

The boat moved out into clear water where passengers were informed that the vessel had hit a submerged object and was taking on water.

Passengers then donned lifejackets before the skipper and crew moved them into the inflatable liferaft. The exercise was part of an ongoing programme to increase safety standards on passenger vessels on the river.

Garrick Royle from the St Mawes Ferry Company said: ''This is the third life raft exercise we have done in recent years and it provides an invaluable opportunity for our staff and crew to practice these emergency procedures and each time we learn something new that we can improve on.

"As a company we are fortunate that in that in over seven years and carrying over 10 million passengers we have never had a serious incident or man over board but the possibility is always there and it is important that we are prepared if something serious ever happened."

The exercise was managed by local MCA Surveyor, Syd Turner, who said: ''The MCA is focused on increasing safety standards on passenger vessels and we are keen to do this by working in partnership with local operators. All in all the exercise went very well and all who attended it found it very useful and we had some constructive feedback from all the agencies and operators''

Another local boat operator John Pill, who runs the MV Princessa, was joined in the exercise by fellow skippers, John Pill Jnr and Ryan Medlin.

John added: ''I think it all went very well, it is good to get the opportunity to practice our emergency procedures in this controlled environment so that we are better prepared if it ever happens for real'."

Also in attendance were the local Inshore Lifeboat and crew from Enterprise Boats, The Flushing Ferry, St Mawes Ferry, The King Harry Ferry, Falmouth Park & Float and Fowey to Mevagissey Ferries.

For more information on Cornwall Ferries please visit the website www.kingharryscornwall.co.uk or phone 01872 861911.