Seaways' routes to and from Denmark are suspended after a ferry crashes into the pontoon at Harwich Port, leaving a gaping hole in the ship's hull

The 23,000-tonne Sirena Seaways ferry, travelling from Esbjerg in Denmark, was left with a large hole beneath the waterline after it struck the dock in Parkeston Quay, Harwich, on Saturday.

The vessel was carrying 489 passengers, some of whom described hearing a loud bang when the ferry began to take on water at around midday.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the ship listing between 5 to 10 degrees to its port side, while emergency services rushed to stem the leak and make the compartment watertight.

A number of rescue teams attended the scene, including the Walton Coastguard, Harwich RNLI, the harbour launch boat and an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter from Wattisham Arifield.

Taking direction from the ship’s public-address system, passengers and their vehicles were forced to remain onboard for almost three hours while the ferry was patched-up and re-berthed. Essex County Fire and Rescue stated that no one became trapped or suffered severe injuries during the incident.

Fire station officer Terry Jewell said, “The ship’s crew worked swiftly

to put their safety plans into practice immediately after the accident

happened.”

Gert Jakobsen, vice-president of communications for DFDS Seaways, operators of the Sirena Seaways ferry, suggested that although the cause of the crash is currently unknown, winds that approached 40mph in the Essex area on Saturday could have been a contributing factor.

DFDS Seaways stated: “We are currently assessing the situation before it is able to resume its service on the Harwich-Esbjerg route. We would like to apologise to passengers for any inconvenience caused to their travel plans.”

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Danish authorities are investigating the incident and the ferry is currently being repaired at a dry dock.

Photos: Twitter/Alex Dace

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