A PASSENGER ferry had to perform a U-turn in the middle of the Channel after “nearly mowing down” migrant boats in its path.
P&O’s Pride of Kent – sailing from Calais to Dover – was involved in the close call just after 5am this morning.
Ship tracking radar shows the 30,000-tonne vessel coming to a sharp halt at around 5.30am before completely turning around.
After around five minutes, it then turns back towards Britain to complete a 360-degree maneuver in the middle of the Channel.
Sources say the vessel came across a number of migrants in makeshift dinghies – making it impossible to pass.
Ferry bosses are said to be fuming with French authorities for not making efforts to clear the Channel of migrants in dangerous boats.
A senior ferry company source said: “Until now the French Navy have been escorting migrant boats across the Channel to ensure they have safe passage.
“That has been helpful to huge passenger ferries and cargo vessels because it means desperate migrants won’t be killed by massive vessels that can’t see them.
“But now the French have seemingly abandoned them completely, leaving rubber dinghies to cross the Channel alone at the mercy of mega-ships.
The Pride of Kent was involved in the close-call just after 5am this morning[/caption]
It is said to have encountered dinghies carrying migrants in the Channel (stock)[/caption]
“The real solution is the French should stop the journeys happening in the first place, but if they must happen then the Navy have to make sure they are being escorted safely and working to try and prevent people being killed.”
The English Channel, specifically the Strait of Dover, is considered to be the busiest maritime route in the world.
Around 400 ships, ferries and cargo vessels pass through it every day.
The news comes after a 16-year-old migrant boy was found dead on a French beach after desperately trying to reach the UK.
The Sudanese youngster and a companion had got into difficulty in the waters in the early hours of today and was discovered at Sangatte, near Calais.
It is thought the pair were trying to reach the UK overnight to beat Storm Ellen that brought 70pmh winds and torrential rain across the country today.
Last week, we reported how people-smugglers are offering “kids go free” deals on perilous small-boat Channel crossings.
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They are telling migrant parents they do not have to pay to carry babies and toddlers – and offer them further cut-price deals to take older children.
The gangmasters’ latest tactic to attract desperate families mean vessels are even more crammed when sailing to our shores from Calais.
It’s been reported more than 4,000 migrants have reached the UK shores.
PM Boris Johnson has blasted their bids as a “very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do”.