THE commander of a ferry that smashed into a buoy in the Solent has quit.

Ferry operator Red Funnel confirmed that the sailor had left the company after an investigation into last Thursday’s collision put the crash down to “human error”.

The company’s Red Jet 5 vessel has been out of service since it ploughed into the Hythe Knock Buoy on the 5.45am crossing to Cowes.

No one was injured, but the damaged boat has been undergoing repairs.

This has caused havoc for passengers at a time when the company’s Red Jet 4 boat is being refurbished – leaving only one other vessel in operation for two weeks.

A company statement said: “We have completed an investigation into the accident.

“The investigation concluded that the cause was human error and the commander in charge of the vessel at the time has resigned and left the company.”

Engineers are working round the clock to complete Red Jet 4’s annual refit early so that normal service can resume by Wednesday, October 16.

Company CEO Paul Winter apologised to customers and said: “We are doing everything possible to minimise the inconvenience, which includes deploying additional resources to speed up the refit.

“Compensation to daily travellers will be offered once the normal timetable resumes.”

An hourly shuttle service is currently running, with departures at 15 minutes past the hour from West Cowes and 45 minutes past the hour from Southampton.

Boarding cards in use are being issued on a first come first served basis and customers are advised to travel via East Cowes rather than West Cowes at peak times and wherever possible.

A free connecting boat service is operating from the West Cowes pontoon to East Cowes from 7am-9am on weekdays to connect with vehicle ferry sailings to Southampton.