Contracts signed – new vessels on track for 2026

Operator, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) has has signed landmark contracts with French shipbuilding group, PIRIOU, which will secure the long-term future of passenger travel and freight supplies to and from the islands off Cornwall, England.

The ISSG which is the primary provider of passenger and freight transport to the Isles of Scilly, signed the contracts for two new ships (a passenger ferry and cargoship) to be delivered in 2026, in which the operator highlight will make journeys faster, more comfortable, and environmentally sustainable, whilst improving on reliability.

The Steamship Group, which operates passenger and cargo links between Penzance and St Mary’s, as well as an airline with flights to the islands year round, has signed contracts for a new 600-seat passenger vessel, Scillonian IV, and a freight vessel.

Brittany-based Piriou has been developing designs for the two vessels since its appointment as preferred ship builder in September 2023, work which will continue over the coming months, with construction to begin in spring 2024.

The new passenger ship will provide improved comfort, reliability and speed, whilst the new freight vessel will significantly improve cargo capacity.

The new vessels will be delivered using finance provided by long-term partner to ISSG, Lombard (part of NatWest Group). The solution puts in place modern vessels that will future-proof transport to and from the Isles of Scilly, providing economic certainty for the islands and securing a lifeline link for the community on Scilly.

Now that contracts are signed and finance is in place, final preparations will be made over the coming months to ensure works start on schedule in the spring. Both vessels will be built by Piriou in Vietnam, before being transported to Concarneau, Brittany for commissioning. The Group’s existing passenger vessel, Scillonian III, which is currently undergoing her annual schedule of maintenance, has been a workhorse for the islands since 1977 and will continue to serve the route during the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

The new vessels will feature a range of new technologies, helping to improve resilience, comfort and reliability. The new passenger vessel will carry up to 600 people (a 24% increase on current levels) whilst reducing journey times.

It will feature roll and pitch reduction systems, thereby enhancing passenger comfort, and is designed utilising modern propulsion technologies that improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The vessel is also designed to integrate further enhancements as technology develops.

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State moves closer to purchase of €200m multi-role ship that will be largest in navy’s history

The purchase of the Irish Navy’s biggest ship in its history which will respond to humanitarian crises is set to move a step forward as information documents are to be issued across an EU platform.

The project has been in planning in the Department of Defence for many years but stepped up a gear with the recent Commission on the Defence Forces.

Sources have said the ship is anticipated to have a helicopter landing area on board as well as other possible facilities such as a roll-on-roll-off facility for vehicles like the Defence Forces armoured personnel carriers.

The project will cost an estimated €200m however it is understood that the exact cost will not be decided on until the completion of the tender process.
Sources, with a knowledge of the planning process, said that officials had spoken to several shipbuilding firms across Europe and wider afield either formally or informally.

It is understood that a number of those firms are likely to make their interest in construction known. With a potential date of completion hoped for 2025.

A source also stated that there will likely be an effort to award the build of the ship to a European firm with a dockyard in Poland the most likely location if the State opts for one of the EU companies.

It is understood that British ship builder, Babcock International Group which previously built a number of patrol ships for the Irish Naval Service would be a potential builder. Their offering would likely be their Arrowhead MRV.

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Ireland Announces Approval of Brexit Marine Infrastructure Improvement

Following on from the announcement of a scheme to provide up to €35 mn to local authorities to rejuvenate Ireland’s public marine infrastructure, the Government of Ireland announced the approval of €32.7 mn in funding for 110 projects around the Irish coast which will fund projects worth over €40 million in total. The scheme is proposed for funding under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The Scheme arose from a recommendation of the Seafood Taskforce, set up in March 2021 to look at the impacts specifically on the fishing sector and coastal communities. The Taskforce recommended that the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) be used to fund rejuvenation of Ireland’s publicly owned coastal and marine infrastructure specifically to address the economic consequences of Brexit arising from the implications to the Irish fishing industry. This investment is intended to help to drive economic diversification and will complement other measures such as Community Led Local Development via the Fisheries Local Action Groups.

One of the recipients are Dun Laoghaire Harbour who will receive €32.7m for berth fenders and related matters and €1,744M will be for East Pier Revetment Repairs.

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France Takes Delivery Of First SLAMF Unmanned Mine Warfare Prototype

On November 25, 2021, the French armament procurement agency (DGA – Direction générale de l’armement) took delivery of the first SLAMF (Système de lutte anti-mines futur) Future Mine Warfare System prototype. This system combines unmanned underwater and surface vehicles and should enable sailors to operate outside of the mine field.

The SLAM-F program, under the project management of the DGA, will replace all current mine warfare platforms (Tripartite-class mine hunters, sonar towing vessels, diver support vessels). The SLAM-F program will help secure the deployment of the French Navy’s strategic units (nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, aircraft carriers) and protect access to French ports. It can also support the deployment of a naval action force, secure the evacuation of nationals by sea, participate in crisis prevention or intervene in a contested environment.

This first part of the SLAM-F program (known as MMCM in the UK), is the result of a Franco-British cooperation and is part of the Lancaster House military agreement (2010).

The contract for the design, development and production of the prototypes (one per country) was signed in March 2015 between Thales Defence and OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation) on behalf of the two countries.

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Dublin Port unveils €400m expansion plan

Construction of the third and final Masterplan project at Dublin Port Company will commence in 2026, and will cost €400 million.

Dublin Port Company announced the expansion last week, which it has named the 3FM Project. It will deliver 20% of the capacity required by 2040 on one-fifth of Dublin Port’s lands, all located on the Poolbeg Peninsula.

The ambitious project is expected to be completed sometime between 2030 and 2035.

The project is at the pre-planning stage and Dublin Port Company says it will lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanala in early 2023. Between now and then, the company says it will prepare the detailed project design and environmental impact reports required for large infrastructure projects.

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A plan is in hand to raise the profile of the East Yorkshire port of Bridlington by linking its fishing industry to tourism.

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