The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency owns a P&O ferry

Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on Friday stopped a ferry operated by P&O in Northern Ireland because it was not ready to sail, the agency and P&O said.

The UK government has already announced it will take legal action against P&O Ferries’ decision to lay off 800 staff earlier this month with immediate effect.

The European Causeway ferry, which operates between Cairnryan in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland, will be held until the company resolves any issues, an MCA spokesperson said, citing “crew familiarization , ship’s documentation and crew training”.

“Following my instructions to inspect all P&O vessels before returning to service, the @MCA_Media has held one vessel for unseaworthiness,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a tweet.

A spokesperson for P&O Ferries told Reuters the company would make the necessary modifications and work closely with the MCA to return the vessel to service.

‘European Causeway underwent an inspection by MCA at Larne, during which it was found to be insufficiently ready for commissioning,’ the spokesman said.

The P&O boss has admitted breaking the law by firing staff without notice.

“We chose not to consult, and we are and will compensate everyone for that,” chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite said Thursday.

(Reuters – Reporting by Mrinmay Dey, Shubham Kalia and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio and Barbara Lewis)