Pont-Aven hit By Freak Wave

An engineer examines the damage caused to Brittany Ferries flagship Pont-Aven. A freak wave reportedly measuring 12 metres (40 feet) hit a ferry on its way to Spain, injuring five passengers and forcing the ship to shelter in France. From World Photos slideshow

Brittany Ferries has said a number of passengers sustained minor injuries when its flagship, the Pont-Aven, encountered what it says was a freak wave at around 10.30pm last night.

The ferry was on its way from Plymouth to Santander in northern Spain.

The company said five passengers received cuts and bruises when the wave struck, damaging windows and cabins.

The ship was diverted to Roscoff in France. Arrangements were being made to have it transferred onto Brest where the water damage can be assessed.

Brittany Ferries said that alternative arrangements have been put in place for its 1,100 passengers, including several Irish truck drivers and their loads.

It was not yet able to comment on how last night's incident would affect the service from Cork. This will be advised later.

The Pont-Aven runs from Ringaskiddy in Cork to Roscoff and from Plymouth to Santander.

In operation for just two years, she experienced a number of technical problems in her first year of service.

Most serious was the flooding of an auxiliary engine room in August 2004 caused by a faulty sea valve. The incident left the ferry unable to move from the Plymouth terminal for two days. Many services were disrupted at the height of the holiday season.