Freight News, Sea

Another reefer line switches to Dover

[ January 8, 2018   //   ]

Caribbean specialist operator Geest Line is to move its south of England call from Portsmouth to Dover following an increase in the size of its ships and to accommodate the need for weekend discharge of cargoes.

Geest has replaced its four chartered vessels with five larger and newer ships, increasing capacity by over 40, while adding two port calls in Colombia for fruit loading along with a new stop at Flushing in the Netherlands. Managing director Captain Peter Dixon added that the port of Portsmouth had been unable to handle a planned switch of eastbound arrivals from Sunday to Friday.

While thanking Portsmouth stevedores, hauliers and others for their hard work over the years, he added: “At the same time, we look forward to working through Dover, which has an exciting port development due to open in spring 2019 that should make it an ideal partner for the Geest Line operations as well as being able to handle our requirements immediately.”

Captain Dixon said that Geest did investigate an alternative move to Southampton, which was the line’s base before Portsmouth, but it lacked sufficient cargo-handling space. Southampton could provide space for only 1,000 pallets whereas Geest typically requires capacity of around 4,500 pallets.

Geest Line’s 32 staff at its head office in Fareham near Portsmouth would not be affected by the change of port, Captain Dixon stressed. Further staff may be employed in Dover in due course, he added.

As well as perishable, mainly bananas, from the Caribbean, in the return direction it handles container and breakbulk general cargo and recently provided free-of-charge aid shipments during natural disasters in the Caribbean, most recently when Hurricane Maria struck Dominica in November 2017.

The port of Dover’s general cargo hub has been successful recently in attracting reefer operators, and its capacity will be further boosted towards the end of this year when two new berths come on stream. Cool Carriers is due to bring its Coolman Central America and West Indies service to Dover Cargo Terminal from this month.

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