Freight News, Sea

DFDS axes Scotland ro ro link

[ April 26, 2018   //   ]

DFDS has  abruptly shut down its freight ro ro service from Zeebrugge to Rosyth, near Edinburgh after a fire broke out in the engine room of the sole vessel on 16 April. An injured crew member was airlifted to hospital from the Finlandia Seaways for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Within days of the incident, DFDS said it had decided to shut down the route permanently, saying that repairs to the ship would take several months and that no suitable replacement vessel was currently available. This, said DFDS, would exacerbate losses on the route and there was no now hope of turning it around.

DFDS senior vice president Kell Robdrup, said: “We have no alternative but to close the route as we undoubtedly will lose clients who will be forced to seek alternative solutions for their transport. We are extremely sorry for the effect this has on our customers and partners in Scotland and Belgium.”

He added that DFDS, in cooperation with the Scottish Government and the port of Rosyth had tried everything in its power to save the route, including going from a combined passenger and cargo ship to a freight ship (although a limited passenger service had just been reintroduced) reducing costs by double stacking containers and reducing fuel costs by installing a scrubber to remove sulphur from the exhaust gas instead of using expensive, low sulphur fuel.

Despite these measures, the route continued to make losses, “and with the new situation with the ship out of service for months, the market, the customers and the financial situation will be negatively affected, and make a turnaround and a reopening unrealistic,” he said.

The ship was towed to DFDS’ terminal in Immingham, where the cargo was discharged. An inspection revealed substantial damage to the ship’s engine room, and DFDS estimates that it will be out of service for several months for repairs.

DFDS said the closure would affect a very limited number of people employed by DFDS as port handling was performed by contractors. DFDS has not made any decisions yet on redeployment of Finlandia Seaways when she returns from repairs.

Charles Hammond, group chief executive of Rosyth owner and operator, Forth Ports, said: “We are very disappointed that DFDS has closed the Rosyth/Zeebrugge freight ferry service. The service has a long history at Rosyth, operating since 2002, but has faced a number of challenges over the years. We are concerned for the welfare of the injured crew member and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

He added: “Scotland remains well connected with Continental Europe through the range of multimodal services operating from the port of Grangemouth. Grangemouth is Scotland’s largest container terminal and provides connectivity to locations in the UK, mainland Europe and the rest of the world through its feeder network.  We will work hard to ensure that as many affected customers as possible can be accommodated from Grangemouth.”

However, he said Rosyth was one of Scotland’s best-connected ports, and “a range of opportunities currently being explored for the port as a whole.”


Tags: , ,