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Shipping Firms Reviewing UK-Registered Ships Ahead of Brexit

31st January 2019
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Flying the Red Ensign is the London registered Stena Adventurer underway in Dublin Port. The ferry is one of two operating to Holyhead, Wales which is the UK's second busiest ferryport after Dover.  AFLOAT also adds Stena Nordica this week began taking over the roster of the second ferry, Stena Superfast X which is undergoing annual dry-docking in H&W, Belfast. Flying the Red Ensign is the London registered Stena Adventurer underway in Dublin Port. The ferry is one of two operating to Holyhead, Wales which is the UK's second busiest ferryport after Dover. AFLOAT also adds Stena Nordica this week began taking over the roster of the second ferry, Stena Superfast X which is undergoing annual dry-docking in H&W, Belfast. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#ferries - Ferry giant, Stena based in Sweden and tanker firm Stolt-Nielsen which is Bermuda registered, are reviewing their UK-registered ships ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU, the two leading transport companies told Reuters separately on Wednesday (yesterday).

Such commercial decisions could complicate any attempts by the British government to secure extra space on ships to help cope with potential disruption to trade if it fails to secure a negotiated departure from the EU.

And any possible loss of ships will also be a blow to the UK’s ship registry, which forms part of the country’s maritime services industry. Shipping companies in many flag states pay corporation tax based on vessel tonnage rather than profit.

“In the light of the Brexit process we are considering whether the UK flag can become a possible issue for us when it no longer will be an EU flag post the 29th March 2019, but we have taken no decisions and are reviewing different scenarios,” said Ian Hampton, chief people & communications officer with Stena Line.

“Our fleet needs to be as flexible as possible.”

All commercial ships have to be registered, or flagged with a country, partly to comply with safety and environmental laws.

Stena Line is one of Europe’s largest ferry operators with a large part of the business concentrated around the UK.

For further reading about Stolt-Nielsen click here in addition British based operator P&O Ferries which announced last month it would shift the registration of its UK vessels to Cyprus ahead of Brexit.

 

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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