Thursday, December 8, 2011

RoRo Freight Ferry Problems Continue as Storms Forecast

Shortages Exaggerated says Steam Packet Boss
Shipping News Feature

UK – Problems continue with freight traffic destined to the Isle of Man from the mainland as gales up to Force 10 are predicted for the next few days. Previous storms have caused disruption to essential supplies including medicines and foodstuffs and one of the RoRo ferries on the route needs urgent repairs to a bow thruster and will be out of service from next week.

Local wholesalers say they are happy that the ferry group has taken every step to repair their vessel after Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said the company had been unable to charter a replacement vessel in the short term due to the difficulty of manoeuvring in the small harbour at Douglas besides which the extreme weather was the fundamental cause of the problems.

Last night the RoRo ferry Ben-my-Chree managed the trip from Heysham carrying 50+ trailers with vital supplies after the build up of freight at Heysham last week when the damaged vessel was unsafe to operate in the extreme conditions using only a single bow thruster. Mr Woodward said talk of ‘uniformly bare shelves’ in local shops were an exaggeration and that spare parts had been ordered during the summer but manufacturers of the thruster, Wartsila, had twice failed to deliver previously due to sub contract and production issues.

Steam Packet says it has given priority to more urgent cargoes and some shippers have chosen to fly in supplies, air services being unaffected by the weather so far. The damaged ship is now scheduled to enter dry dock on the 16th December with a switch round of services to ensure passenger and urgent freight traffic continues to make the crossing – that gale warning permitting of course.

Photo: The Ben-my-Chree in more tranquil conditions in Douglas harbour.