Maritime company looking to launch ferry service

Maritime firm Harland & Wolff Group has announced plans to run a ferry service between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The company announced the news in a statement to the Stock Exchange.

It said it has been considering the opportunity to build and operate the ferries in their own right.

Harland & Wolff has spent three years working on and developing its own specific design and costing model for the ferries and is now at an advanced stage of pursuing this opportunity more fully.

The company will be seeking to make an application for levelling up funding, in conjunction with approved partners – including local councils – for the build of the vessels and will, in addition, seek a licence to operate on the Penzance to Scilly ferry route.

In the short term it will continue to refine its ferry design.  The Company will be seeking to operate the vessels on an initial five-year period, with an option to operate for a further five years if Government prescribed performance targets are met.

A statement said: “The remoteness of the Isles of Scilly and the reliance that the islanders place on these ferries as essential transport links on a day-to-day basis make it imperative that these ferries are technically suitable for the route and ensure seamless operation through the harsher winter months.

“The company’s proposal seeks to provide these services in the most cost-effective manner, not only to the islanders but also to the summer tourist trade which will provide substantial economic benefit to the islands.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no certainty at this point that this opportunity will proceed to financial close.

“In order to build and present as robust an operational and commercial case as possible, the company has engaged with relevant stakeholders and will be undertaking a consultation on the islands to ensure it provides ships that are not only innovative and pioneering but also environmentally friendly.!

One of the key features of the new vessels would be the provision of a set of enhanced on-board facilities and amenities rather than simply being a replacement of the existing vessels.

The current passenger vessel in operation, the Scillonian III, that has served this route for many years was built in the Company’s Appledore shipyard and is well known for her technical and operational robustness.

John Wood, group chief executive of Harland & Wolff, said: “We have a large number of colleagues in Appledore and across the group who are vastly experienced in the build and operation of passenger vessels.

“ In my view, it is clear that, given the current cost of capital, access to and acceptance of levelling up funding will provide a very cost competitive model to operate either alongside the incumbents or on a stand-alone basis.  This is a fantastic opportunity and we believe competition on this route is the right thing to ensure value for money for the residents and tourists of the islands.”

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