By the late 1990s Fisher had absorbed three other long established UK shipping companies, Coe-Metcalfe and Rowbotham. While it is sad the familiar Everard house-flag funnel logo has now gone, I find the Fisher colour scheme very smart and it stays smarter longer than Everard’s previous light grey or cream hull.
Last year JFE took delivery of two more new tankers from Damen, Holland, King Fisher 4,335gt and Kestrel Fisher 4,631gt taking their fleet to around eighteen vessels. Recent contracts confirm their regular presence at Aberdeen and Inverness where they include delivering jet fuel parcels for the airports there and for Stornoway, Kirkwall and Lerwick. Fishers in recent years have sourced their newbuildings in various countries including South Korea and China. Even Russia now features in their fleet since they acquired in ’09 the nearly new sisters Sarnia Cherie, ex Vedrey Tora 3,043,’07 and Sarnia Liberty, 3,017,’08, ex Vedrey Thor, both built in Astrakhan. As I write the former is in Pembroke from Northern France while the latter is another vessel busy on the East Coast and was recently in Stornoway, Kirkwall and Lerwick from Immingham.
Back in the late ‘90s surprisingly I watched three tankers being built at the warship yard near the James Fisher head office at Barrow in Furness in Cumbria, NW England; where Fishers originated as schooner owners and where they are still based and where they thrive. Those three tankers, Humber, Mersey and Thames Fisher were said to be due to a chance meeting between the then chief executives of the two Barrow based companies, Fishers and what was VSEL, formerly Vickers, now BAe systems. I doubt the latter now would have any interest in the merchant ship market, there being more money in the warship business, in Barrow’s case in nuclear submarines. I believe those three ships are the last JFE hulls UK built and when I checked they were still very active, the latter two largely serving the East Coast from Immingham in the range Lerwick to Great Yarmouth. Thames Fisher 2,760,’97 was most recently in Sunderland while Mersey Fisher 2,760,’98 is headed for Inverness. Humber Fisher, though she is still in the Fisher fleet on some lists, is actually in sunnier climes, in Turkish waters as the Opal T registered in Panama.
While JFE’s focus for their tanker fleet has always been the UK and Europe Cumbrian Fisher 8,446,’04 blt Samho, S Korea, has been chartered to the MoD hence she is regularly found at Portsmouth and Gosport and was recently at Loch Striven and other locations of MoD presence. She has also been deep sea, delivering strategic parcels of oil products including jet fuels to the Falkland Islands. From the Falkland Islands back to the Isle of Wight and for Port Stanley substitute Cowes and the smallest tanker usually found at Fawley, Rix Merlin, 496,’05 proudly UK built at Hepworth’s yard, Paull, Hull. She is keeping the Isle of Wight fuelled up between occasional diversions to the East coast.