I was admiring the fine new pair of DFDS freighters currently on the Immingham-Esbjerg run, but was intrigued by their names of Ark Germania and Ark Dania delivered in ‘13 and ‘14 from builders P&S, Stralsund, Germany.
Why these names when DFDS recently spent £millions on rebranding the fleet. The reason, I have realised, is that they have a special status and were ordered in collaboration with the German and Danish military to be their contribution to any ‘sealift’ military transport operation.
They will work as merchant vessels in ‘Seaways’ livery having a useful 3000 lane metre freight capacity but at other times will be on military duty.
I dare say DFDS is big enough to shuttle other ships around to fill the gap when this big modern pair are called up to serve.
Readers may remember the similar arrangement for six vessels constructed in conjunction with the British Ministry of Defence, two of which, Anvil Point and Hartland Point, were the last ships delivered from Harland and Wolff Belfast before closure.
The other four, were from FSG at Flensburg. Ownership and management of the vessels involves two well known UK shipping names, Hadley and Andrew Weir of Bank Line fame. Longstone and Beachy Head are no longer part of the ‘sealift’ arrangement and are sold for full time trading. There is another such vessel which I cannot work out what her operational parameters are - but I may not be supposed to know: it may be on a ‘need to know basis!’.
MV Cragside 29,004,’10 was delivered for DFDS’s associate Maersk at Odense, their own yard, before its closure. First registered in London, she has served on DFDS routes, but I understand that latterly she has been leased from Maersk and fitted out by the US as a special unit of their ‘sealift’ fleet with accommodation for 200 special personnel. She too, has a name quite out of sync with Maersk or anyone else. Why the name Cragside? I don’t now, but is it a coincidence that it s the name of the well known home open to the public) in Northumberland of Victorian armaments magnate Lord Armstrong? Cragside - a quite British, un-American name - once UK, now Marshall Islands flag: curiouser and curiouser.