Viv Llewellyn’s image of the IOM Steam Packet’s chartered Arrow at Poole indicates how advantageous her long term charter to the Manx operator now seems.
How handy she and her sisters are being able to transfer to work any number of short-sea crossings including, in this case, for Commodore Shipping to the Channel Islands. Indeed, I have said in these pages before that I don’t know what the UK would have done to fulfil its freight needs without the four Estonian conceived Spanish built sisters. Originally Arrow being the Varbola, Clipper Ranger still with Seatruck was Lembitu, and Northlink’s Helliar and Hildasay were Lehola and Leili.
They commenced on Irish Sea and Dart Line routes, but now are mainstays of Northern Isles and Hebridean freight links and others with frequent diversions to serve the Channel Islands, as here, and of course the Isle of Man. I hope, before they are worn out, their replacements are already being planned – but here I doubt it as I am not sure UK domestic ferry operators have the foresight - or access to the cash - that will be required.
Still, the Ex Estonian quartet have a few years in them yet. But shipbuilders would not go far wrong if they did not commence designing replacements for these handy sized and versatile freighters right away. And why not the domestic UK yards now rediscovering mercantile shipbuilding? Cammell Lairds and Fergusons?
And there should be an export market for such ecologically advanced vessels if they are conceived well and of quality build.
Speaking of mercantile builders, Fergusons of Port Glasgow have announced the new Glen Sannox will be delayed into 2019 due to their technically advanced design with their LNG fuelling and machinery, but also, apparently, because the builders are to redesign the bulbous bow which has failed to satisfy the naval architects. I for one am very happy that Fergusons and other UK builders may need to relearn old skills; if they are to succeed in such a competitive field.