In recent years, Remontowa at Gdansk has been the go-to yard for many European ferries needing refit and survey and Brian Climie gave it a good looking over this summer.
The Red Duster was present in the form of the ro-ro freighter Anvil Point receiving what looks like a thorough refit. Readers may recall this class of handy freighters, four built in Germany by Flensburger Schiffbau and two by Harland and Wolff including Anvil Point 23,235,’03. They were ordered for the UK government under the private finance initiative (PFI) beloved of some politicians and creative accountants. They are managed commercially by the Foreland Shipping subsidiary of Andrew Weir Ltd to undertake MoD transport contracts and, at other times, they are available for civilian charter.
They have proven popular with several ferry lines including DFDS and Transfennica and two have since been sold off. Termed the ‘Point-Class Sea-lift’ ships, they were designed by Houlder Ltd for the strategic transport of military cargoes and vehicles in times of need. The UK MoD purchased a 22-year charter from Foreland Shipping who own, operate and crew them. The small British crews are required to be sponsored reservists as a condition of service, which means they can be called up to become part of the Armed Forces in times of crisis. This guarantees crews who when required can be expected to work under the Armed Forces Act 2006 rather than the Merchant Navy Code of Conduct. They would be classed as combatants and be afforded the rights granted under the Geneva Convention.
I note that Falkland Islands Shipping Ltd has on its website Hartland Point (the other of the two delivered by Harland & Wolff) and offers a regular container and groupage service between Marchwood near Southampton and the largely military installation of Mare, some 27 miles from Port Stanley. UK-based civil engineering company VolkerStevin is completing new Mare port facilties to cater for the Point-class ships. In this context they are termed Falkland Islands Resupply Ships (FIRS).
There are approximately 10 FIRS sailings per year which deliver military supplies including hardware, food and infrastructure, as well as the commercial freight mainly coordinated by Falklands Islands Shipping Ltd. Falkland Islands Shipping advertises a five week journey time and, seemingly, a monthly service. Minds will be focussing now on the Island’s and the garrisons needs at Christmas!
Coincidentally, the background of John Lucas’s image of the Southampton tug Wyestorm Dec last year, showed Anvil Point and Hartland Point at Marchwood together. It must have happened again: as I write, Anvil Point is heading from Marchwood to Esbjerg at 14 knots, I suspect back on NATO duty positioning MoD materials. Hartland Point has also just left Marchwood for Ascension and due there September 17th before continuing to the Falklands.