A FERRY  crashed into Hythe Pier, leaving three with minor injuries.

The vessel was wedged underneath the structure after careering into it this evening.

Emergency services were alerted after 9pm when the ferry collided with the pier.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue, South Central Ambulance' RNLI lifeboats and HM Coastguard were all called out to the incident.

The cause of the accident is not known and an investigation is underway.

Part of the ferry is said to have to been trapped beneath the 'head' of the pier but has since been removed.

A statement from the Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "Twenty passengers and three crew members had to be rescued after a ferry collided with the Hythe pier this evening.

"The UK Coastguard was called at around 9.20pm and sent Coastguard Rescue Teams from Southampton and Lymington, as well as the Calshot Lifeboat and Calshot Inshore Lifeboat.

"Southampton Vessel Traffic Services, Hampshire Police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, together with South Central Ambulance Service were also involved.

"Although the wheelhouse was extensively damaged by the collision, no-one was seriously injured in the incident, which has been reported to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.​"

Sath Naidoo, operations manager at Hythe Ferry, said: "It's wedged under the pier."

"It's just driven under the pier and it's stuck there at the moment.

"I don't know why."

Passengers were taken off the vessel safely but some crew were being treated on board, according to Mr Naidoo.

A South Central Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We were called at 21.15 reporting the Hythe Ferry had crashed into the pier.

"There were 15 passengers and three crew on board.

"Our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) were sent to the scene and assessed all on board.

"Three patients have minor back and head injuries and at current time will either be treated and discharged on scene or may be taken to hospital."

A tweet from Hardley Fire Station ‏@Hardley58 3m3 minutes ago: "JH58P7 Just returned from assisting coastguard with a boat crash into the Hythe pier. All parties safe and well, please avoid the area."

 It is unclear how the accident will affect the service, which runs from Hythe Pier to Town Quay, on Saturday.

NewForestCops tweeted:  "Multi agency response to incident with Hythe Ferry colliding with the pier. Ferry and pier damaged but fortunately no serious injuries."

The accident comes almost a year after the future of the popular historic  ferry service was secured.

The decision in June last year came after fears were raised by residents that the Hythe Ferry could be lost as it was plagued with problems which saw it run an ‘unpredictable’ service.

The issues saw only one of the three boats in service as the Hotspur IV needed a new hull.

While the Uriah Heap needed repairs as it suffered damage when it was in a previous collision in Town Quay.

Meanwhile the regular boat Great Expectations suffered mechanical problems after it came back on the water after being out of service for a month for its annual inspection.

Director of White Horse Ferries, Peter Lay met with Chris Harrison, chairman of the Hythe and Dibden Parish and Hampshire county councillor for Dibden and Hythe, Malcolm Wade, to thrash out an action plan.

The meeting saw Mr Lay admit communication with passengers and technical problems have been the main issue according to Cllr Malcolm Wade.

At the time Cllr Wade, said: “They talked about the recent problems they have been having after the technical issues and the accident one of their vessels had in Town Quay and I bought the issues that local residents spoke to me about and their concerns for the future.

“White Horse Ferries admitted that their communication could be better but they were concentrating on solving the technical problems they were having and did not communicate to the public well enough.”

The talks also included plans to have all three boats operational which saw the Uriah Heap and Hotspur IV repaired and back in service.

Hythe Ferry receives a £50,000 subsidy from Hampshire County Council.

Cllr Wade, added: “I welcome the fact they have reassured us that the future of the ferry is secure at the moment and I will be working with Hampshire County Council to make sure that happens.”