The Dutch company Abis Shipping of Harlingen is very young, only dating from ’07, but is making great progress in capturing European business with a new 12 strong fleet already at work with three more under construction from Polish and Chinese yards, some being fitted out in Holland.
The company is focussing on short-sea and river transportation and their smart new vessels are cunningly named after important but not necessarily the most obvious towns and cities around the coasts and navigable rivers of the EU.
Of the fleet the two ‘A’ class, the Abis Antwerpen and Abis Albufeira, are a low air-draft 4,200dwt general cargo type while the ‘C’ class, including Abis Cardiff, are general purpose, 6,050dwt and ice strengthened. The numerically largest and most innovative class are the six ‘B’ vessels being forward control heavy Cargo-multi purpose craft of 3,900dwt like the Abis Belfast seen at Warrenpoint. With this arrangement they are picking up many contracts for awkward and outsize loads like windfarm gear, storage tanks and ship fabrications.
A handy vessel she looks at Warrenpoint and she would appear at Barrow with windfarm sections before repositioning in early February to Appledore, Devon, to sit on the Torridge mud. Here she would take aboard her part of the new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, going for assembly at Rosyth and there is no doubt this class of vessel should capture more of this kind of trade.
I was wondering. Is there a security issue in foreign flag vessels carrying around bits of the UK’s defence hardware? OK, the Netherlands is hardly the enemy but what about the crews, as they may well be East European or even Russian these days, whatever flag is flown.
Readers may think I am paranoid but I was once tracked via CCTV cameras 20 miles to my home by the police having taken photos of vessels in Barrow docks. Actually the police went on to admit they were less concerned about the Russians than they were about the likes of Greenpeace!
I thought I was taking pictures of colourful merchant shipping (which is a nice change in Barrow) but thanks to their pursuit I learned the ‘dirty British coasters’ I had photographed had been shuttling material between Barrow and Faslane for the MoD. So it all goes to show there is truth in what they say:
“Just because you are paranoid – it doesn’t mean they are not after you!”