ACCIDENT investigators have criticised contingency plans at a Scottish port after a P&O ferry suffered a number of accidents while berthing in heavy winds.

The Norcape roll-on, roll-off vessel attempted to berth at Troon in Ayrshire on November 26 last year but was thwarted by strong winds. A second attempt a day later also failed and the ship was grounded.

A further accident occurred when a tug was sent to haul her into deeper waters but its towline slipped and got caught in the Norcape's propellers, injuring a crew member as it was pulled over the side.

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The Marine Accident Investigation Branch said no guidelines had been developed to assist the crew of the ferry, which operated between Larne and Troon.

"Norcape had been operating on the Larne/Troon freight service since July 2011 and no guidelines had been developed to assist the crew in determining operational weather limits for berthing," the report said, adding: "The harbour authority in Troon had not been involved with the vessel's owner in considering her operation in adverse weather conditions."