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Ferry 'Open Day' During Maritime UK Week for School Children & Sea Cadets Onboard Scilly Isles Passenger Cargoship

10th October 2022
Among events of Maritime UK Week (10-16 October) includes a rare chance for hundreds of people to board the Isle of Scilly Steamship's passenger/cargoship Scillonian III while docked in Penzance, Cornwall on a non-sailing day. The ferry which also carries cars are handled  by a crane onto the ship that has served for more than four decades on the UK domestic waters service to the archipelago off Land's End, England.
Among events of Maritime UK Week (10-16 October) is a rare Open Day held on board the Isle of Scilly Steamship's passenger/cargoship Scillonian III while docked in Penzance, Cornwall on a non-sailing day. The ferry which also carries cars hoisted onboard the cargoship has served for more than four decades on the UK domestic waters service to the archipelago off Land's End, England. Credit: Isles of Scilly Travel - facebook

School children and sea cadets will have a unique opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Isles of Scilly Steamship ferry with the event held tomorrow, as part of Maritime UK Week (10-16 October), writes Jehan Ashmore.

The veteran passenger/cargoship Scillonian III which was purpose built in 1977 at Appledore Shipbuilders, links Penzance Harbour, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly off south-west England.

The Open Day invitations has been sent to local school children, Sea Cadets and fans of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group’s faithful passenger ship which has served islanders and tourists alike for 45 years on a route which takes in the scenic sights of the Cornish coast.

Tomorrow's (11 October) Open Day will be special one-off event held during a non-sailing day when the 67.7m vessel is berthed in the ship's homeport of Penzance.

The visiting school children and sea cadets will be able to meet the captain and crew, tour the ship’s bridge and look around the pristine engine room of the 1,346 gross registered tonnes ferry.

The event is among those organised during Maritime UK Week, which aims to shine a spotlight on the latest developments in the maritime sector and engage people across the UK with the maritime world including taking a career. 

It is in domestic UK waters where the 485 passenger Scillonian III plays a key role plying between Penzance and St. Mary's, the largest of the Scilly Isles with the ferry running on a seasonal basis between March and November.

Asides carrying general cargo / perishable goods, vehicles are handled by the ship's crane into the hold or positioned as deck cargo along with containers.

Outside of the shoulder and main tourism season, the ferry is laid up during the winter, however a cargoship service continues to serve islanders throughout the year.

In addition passenger air services are also operated by the company.

As Afloat previously reported, there are plans to replace the ageing ferry with a passenger/cargoship newbuild, the 'Scillonian IV'. The 72m new ferry will transport more passengers with a capacity for 600.

Also planned is a 45m freighter newbuild, with a limited capacity for 12 passengers.

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!