Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Firm brought in to tackle problem plagued ferry

Floating Bridge Number 6 Image copyright Isle of Wight Council
Image caption Since it came into service in May 2017 the chain ferry has broken down, run aground and been suspended by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency due to "training issues"

A shipbuilding company has been brought in to fix the ongoing issues with the troubled Isle of Wight chain ferry.

Currently the Floating Bridge service at East Cowes is unable to run in all tide conditions.

Isle of Wight Council says Wight Shipyard will look at issues including the water depth above the chains and its prow to try and reduce noise.

The £3.2m Floating Bridge Number 6 has been beset by problems since entering service in May 2017.

Car bumpers were scraped while disembarking and it suffered an electrical fault on its second day in use.

It has been in and out of service ever since, beset by numerous problems, including night-time noise, running aground and a broken prow chain.

Currently, the floating bridge cannot run during a fast-flowing spring ebb tide due to issues with the chain depth under the water which poses issues to other vessels.

Image copyright Andrew Cooke
Image caption The noise from the ferry has been described as "disturbing and distracting"

The authority said the cost of the improvement work "will only be known when a design solution is chosen by the council following a procurement process".

Mainstay Marine, which built the ferry is said to be working with the council and the shipbuilders to resolve the issues.

More than 120,000 people and 48,000 vehicles have used the ferry between April and June, according to the council.

The chain ferry crosses the River Medina from East Cowes to Cowes saving a 12-mile (19km) detour.


Floating bridge timeline:

  • 13 May 2017 - Vessel launched
  • 14 May - Broke down
  • 15 May - Service suspended by Maritime and Coastguards Agency
  • 7 June - Ran aground
  • 9 June - Ran aground for a second time
  • 9 June - Council said it had cleared "silt build-up that caused the floating bridge to ground"
  • 10 June - Ran aground a third time
  • 13 June to 3 July - Taken out of service at low tide
  • 30 June - Broke down due to electrical fault
  • 21 July - Withdrawn from service at night due to noise levels
  • 4 September - Withdrawn from service indefinitely
  • 11 December - Service resumed as part of extended trial
  • 2 February 2018 - Broken prow chain
  • 14 April - Ran aground
  • 15-16 July out of service for "improvements"
  • Ongoing - unable to run during low tides

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