P&O Ferries is at risk of being sued after it spent PS230m on two hybrid ships that can’t be connected to the Calais or Dover electricity grids.
bosses hailed the ship as the “most sustainable” ferry operator. The battery-laden vessels will be run on diesel by P&O when they arrive later in the year.
P&O caused controversy last year when it refused to accept two state-of the-art “superferries” in spite of its shock of firing nearly 800 seafarers to reduce costs.
P&O, a Guangzhou Shipyard shipyard in China, claimed that the ships would reduce fuel consumption by 40% “through a combination fuel and battery propulsion” when they announced the order for 2020.
The company stated that the ship was designed to be carbon neutral based on two assumptions: there will be more shore charging stations for electric vehicles in ports and batteries.
It was disappointing that P&O did not consult with Calais or Dover authorities about charging points. This caused confusion among port officials. However, P&O denies such claims. They added that Dover does not have the current network capacity to charge the ferry batteries or meet other electricity requirements.
One person said, “You don’t order ships without consulting the port.”
Sources close to P&O insist that the company had “engaged at long length with both ports regarding the electricity requirements of our new ships”.
The two ships, named Pioneer and Liberte will replace P&O’s older fleet. They are double-headed and save time loading and unloading, as they don’t have to turn around at port.
Industry speculation has led to the possibility that P&O may announce job cuts in light of improved sailing efficiency.
The company however stated this weekend that it was “categorically false” to suggest that any redundancies would result from the new ships.
P&O also maintained that towing electric batteries on-board across the English Channel would not increase carbon emissions.
P&O’s spokesman stated that, contrary to earlier claims of carbon neutrality, “Our new hybrid ships were not designed to operate on a completely zero emission basis and be ‘charged-up’ in port.”
P&O caused outrage nationwide by firing hundreds of seafarers, some via video message, and replacing them with overseas crews that were cheaper.
The company recently began the next phase in its restructuring plan, offloading services on Irish Sea routes via an operational sharing agreement.
A spokesperson for P&O stated that it was false to suggest any part of the business is up for sale. No meetings were held in relation to such. P&O Ferries is 100% focused on being the best ferry company Europe has to offer, with the best vessels and the best routes.
The spokesman for hybrid ferries said that the new-generation ships don’t need to be charged at ports. They can charge at sea. The hybrid engines work in the same way as a car engine. The mechanical engine charges the battery while the propulsion switches between them to conserve energy.
“We expect these ships will run for many years without the need to connect to a grid, until the energy infrastructure at port is improved.
“We maintain regular communication with Calais and Dover authorities, including about the role of these ships in creating more sustainable supply chains for the UK.
“The advanced engines have not affected the crewing model so staffing remains unchanged.”