Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Larger RoRo Freight Ferries Deployed to Accommodate Unaccompanied Trailers Pre Brexit

Two Bigger Ships Will Ensure Sufficient Capacity Across Irish Sea
Shipping News Feature
UK – Seatruck Ferries, which runs freight only RoRo ferry services across the Irish Sea, says it is to invest €100 million increasing capacity on the Warrenpoint to Heysham route by 30%. Unaccompanied trailers are the driver for the move which will see the company deploy two larger freight ferries this summer, giving the carrier the capacity to ship 30,000 additional trailers annually on the key crossing.

Warrenpoint occupies a strategic position in Northern Ireland, separated from the Republic of Ireland only by a narrow strait and this latest move will see the four-deck Seatruck Precision and Seatruck Performance replace the current three-deck vessels and operate a twice daily service between the ports. Alistair Eagles, Chief Executive of Seatruck Ferries said:

“Whatever the outcome of the Brexit land border negotiations, Warrenpoint Port will continue to be a cornerstone of the Seatruck operation. I clearly remember watching the very first Seatruck sailing from Warrenpoint in 1996. Even back then we had a very strong belief in our business model, our service and our future strategy. “Adding larger ships to the Warrenpoint route is the next logical step for Seatruck and I have no doubt that it will be very popular providing more unaccompanied trailer space to our growing customer base, as the industry seeks solutions to the ongoing driver shortage. The larger vessels underline the need for the Southern Relief Road which will connect Warrenpoint Port directly to the main Belfast-Dublin motorway. Seatruck fully supports this key piece of infrastructure.”

The vessel switch follows exponential growth for Seatruck in recent years with unaccompanied trailer volumes rising by more than 250% since 2007. In 2017 unaccompanied trailer volumes across all Irish Sea route grew by 6% compared with a just a 1% growth in driver accompanied volumes. The ferry company now operates 76 departures per week across three Irish Sea routes, moving around 20% of the total Irish Sea RoRo freight volumes, mostly unaccompanied, but with the capacity for 12 driver accompanied trucks per voyage.

In Heysham, Peel Ports has recently invested £10 million in a new loading ramp to accommodate and improve ferry operation and this deployment of the two larger Flensburger-Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) series vessels, built in Germany in 2012, will free up the current two ‘P’ series vessel built in 2008. In welcoming the announcement, Clare Guinness, Chief Executive of Warrenpoint Port said:

“This is a significant investment by Seatruck Ferries and is a clear commitment to Warrenpoint Port and the wider Newry, Mourne and Down district, which will directly benefit from the increase in trade. We have a strong relationship with Seatruck and the Port is supporting the company with the provision of additional terminal areas.

“Our recently launched Masterplan outlined our vision for the development of the Port for the benefit of the wider economy and community. Part of that strategy is to grow freight ferry volumes and this welcome announcement will assist the Port in realising that vision.”

Seatruck was one of several ferry companies which came under fire from seafarers’ unions in January for paying wages on the route allegedly below the minimum for UK workers.

Photo: The Seatruck Performance