About 60 cars and more than 20 trucks and other vehicles were damaged when Storm Imogen hit a ferry sailing earlier in the week.

More than 100 passengers were on an Irish Ferries' service from France to Ireland which was forced to take shelter off the UK coast on Monday in near hurricane force winds.

It is understood the Epsilon had been guided out of Cherbourg on Sunday evening by a pilot boat and made safe passage to Land's End before being forced into calmer waters off the north Devon coast.

No passengers were injured.

The UK Coastguard said its offices took a 999 call at 12.45pm on Monday afternoon from a member of the public while the ferry was about a half mile from shore.

The agency made contact with the ship and crew reported that it was taking shelter from the weather and added: "All well on board."

In a statement the company said: "Irish Ferries deeply regrets the inconvenience caused to passengers when heavy seas (Storm Imogen) forced its ferry vessel Epsilon to take shelter off the North Devon Coast on its scheduled voyage from Cherbourg to Dublin last Sunday.

"Throughout this period, Irish Ferries ensured that all passengers were fully cared for.

"Unfortunately, conditions pertaining at the time were such as to cause a number of freight units to shift position on the car deck which resulted in damage being caused to a number of vehicles and cargo."

Insurance assessors have been examining damage to the vehicles on board but the vessel itself is not believed to have been damaged and is back in service.

Passengers were offered taxis, car hire and accommodation after disembarking in Dublin Port.

"Irish Ferries and its insurers are currently assessing damage suffered by their customers. We have contacted and written to all customers affected inviting those that have suffered losses to set out details of any claim," the company said.

Anyone on the boat whose vehicle was damaged has been offered a hire car, Irish Ferries said.

The sailing was due to arrive at the Irish capital at 11am on Monday, but did not make it to port until Tuesday.

The ship is registered in Italy.

The Department of Transport in Dublin said any investigation over the decision to put to sea would be a matter for authorities there.