scilly ferries

Harland & Wolff (Scilly Ferries) Ltd. is a new ferry service launching in Spring 2024 operating between Penzance and St Mary’s.

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Harland & Wolff announces programme to build and operate new Scilly ferries

Yesterday, Harland & Wolff announced proposals to build and operate two ferries on the Penzance to Isles of Scilly ferry route, as well as one inter-island vessel commencing spring 2025.

Over the past three years Harland & Wolff has been working on the design and costing models for these vessels and has now sought to make an application for levelling up funding, alongside approved partners. Partners include local councils and government and would see Harland & Wolff apply for a licence to operate on the Penzance to Scilly ferry route.

£48m in levelling-up funding has already been allocated by the UK government for the purposes of building new vessels on the route and in line with its National Shipbuilding Strategy, which requires a high level of local manufacturing content in exchange for taxpayer funding. The current passenger vessel, the Scillonian III, was built at Harland & Wolff’s site in Appledore, Devon and is well known for her technical and operational robustness.

It is Harland & Wolff’s intention to stimulate a competition for the vessel build and licensed operation of the ferries along this route. The proposed operation would be for an initial 5-year period, with the option to extend for a further 5 years. This approach ensures that the islanders are provided an agile, sustainable and competitive route, delivering the best possible value for money to the Islanders, local community, seasonal tourists and the UK tax payer.

Given 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, it is imperative that these ferries are technically suitable for the route and ensure seamless operation through the harsher winter months. The company’s programme seeks to provide these services in the most cost-effective manner, not only to the islanders but also to the summer tourist trade, which provide substantial economic benefit to the islands.

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. The consultation will ensure that Harland & Wolff provides ships that are not only innovative and pioneering but also environmentally friendly.

One of the key differentiating features of the proposed 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.

John Wood, Group Chief Executive Officer 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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