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Port of Dover: UK & Europe's Busiest Ferryport Appoints Chief Operations Office

20th August 2019
PORT OPERATIONS TOWER: On a recent tour of the Port of Dover AFLOAT adds is pictured the UK Government's Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, Home Secretary, Priti Patel and the Chancellor, Michael Gove. The three cabinet ministers talked of the importance of keeping traffic moving freely across borders in addition to meeting representatives from the haulage, freight and port industries so to discuss plans to ensure the UK is ready to leave the EU on 31 October. PORT OPERATIONS TOWER: On a recent tour of the Port of Dover AFLOAT adds is pictured the UK Government's Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, Home Secretary, Priti Patel and the Chancellor, Michael Gove. The three cabinet ministers talked of the importance of keeping traffic moving freely across borders in addition to meeting representatives from the haulage, freight and port industries so to discuss plans to ensure the UK is ready to leave the EU on 31 October. Photo: Port of Dover-facebook

The UK and Europe's busiest ferryport the Port of Dover has recently appointed a chief operations officer. 

On an annual basis the English Channel port according to the Port of Dover handles 18,000 vessels in a 24/7 operation enabling to provide a critical link in Britain’s economy. The port in Kent offers essential gateway services for 2.5 million HGVs and around 12 million passengers with up to 120 ferry arrivals and departures each day.

In addition the Port also has a thriving cruise business (see Afloat story) and expanding cargo business, which highlights its diverse range of activity.

The first stage of the £250 million Dover Western Docks Revival (DWDR) project is nearing completion – a project which will deliver an additional 20% of operational capacity and platform for growth and regeneration. This, combined with the challenges of the UK's departure from the European Union, make it an interesting and vital time to take on the role of COO at the Port of Dover.

The incoming COO, Sarah West stated: “I am delighted to be joining the team at the Port of Dover at such an exciting time, when the Port has great opportunities for growth and further successes. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to build long term, sustainable relationships with our customers based on operational excellence.”

Commenting on the port's appointment, Doug Bannister, CEO said: “Operating Europe’s busiest port, and continuing to deliver our services to a high standard whilst going through a period of uncertainty requires a high calibre Chief Operations Officer. Equally, looking towards the future and setting the strategy for operational improvements given advancing technology and sustainability, presents a compelling proposition for the right candidate. I am delighted that we have secured Sarah into this important role for the Port."

Sarah is expected take up the appointment in the Autumn. 

Published in Ferry
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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