FRIST Tell Minister There’s No Second-Hand Scillonian Replacement

The Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport group say there is no second hand vessel available, anywhere in the world, to replace the Scillonian III.

And they allege this was contrary to what the Steamship Company told the transport minister, Norman Baker, before he turned down funding for a new £26m vessel as part of the Route Partnership scheme.

FRIST have used the allegation as part of a campaign for a year-round lifeline service. They argue private operators can afford new vessels if there’s a government commitment to their use, in the same way that new passenger rail rolling stock is procured by leasing companies.

FRIST has offered the minister evidence from a major shipping broker, Clarksons, which supports their claim that there’s no suitable second hand boat to replace the 35-year-old Scillonian III.

But the Steamship Company disagrees with FRIST’s comments. Chief Executive Jeff Marston told Radio Scilly news that the company board will keep open their vessels’ options review to identify a replacement for their boats when appropriate. Both one and two ship options will be considered, he said.

They’ll also include the possibility of procuring a second hand vessels or commissioning a new build.

FRIST say in their statement that Minister Norman Baker reassured them, and the two delegates from the Council, that he would study shipping expert Clarksons’ views on replacement ships carefully and that he “would need to see the impact on Scilly’s economy of the loss of the helicopter service, but promised to keep the door open for further discussions.”

However, The Department for Transport told us last night that they wanted to make it clear that Mr Baker would discuss general Scilly transport issues and has wasn’t agreeing to further discussions on just the vessel.


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