Guernsey Press

Condor adds second ro-pax ship to its fleet

CONDOR is taking on another conventional roll-on, roll-off ferry, which has been purchased jointly with the Guernsey Investment Fund.

MV Straitsman is currently operating between New Zealand’s North and South Islands.

The 125m-long MV Straitsman is currently operating between North and South Island in New Zealand.

It is a similar design to the Commodore Clipper, which currently operates mainly between the Channel Islands and Portsmouth, carrying freight and passengers.

Condor CEO John Napton said the new ship would help protect the company’s connectivity across all its route network.

‘The new ship is similar to Clipper in size, speed and capability so we plan to use her on the important freight supply route from Portsmouth, offering an overnight service in both directions and creating an overall more weather-resilient service,’ he said.

‘She will also enable the larger fleet to assist with inter-island frequency and continue to develop freight services from France, which are showing real growth and potential.’

Condor has been looking a new vessel for a year, and it seems the company was fortunate to get her, as just a few weeks ago the Canadian Maritime and Air Transport Cooperative were reported as being interested in the boat.

The vessel has a top speed of 18.5 knots and capacity for 400 passengers.

Condor has not said how much it paid for the vessel for or how much of a stake the Guernsey Investment Fund had in the sale.

Last year Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache, revealing the surprise plans to support a new ferry, said funding for a purchase would be provided through a separate investment body.

It is hoped the ship will enter service this autumn, having undergone sea trials.

‘There is considerable work to be done before she enters service, but this is very positive news for the islands,’ Mr Napton said.

He added that this would support freight, islanders connectivity and inbound tourism.

‘We have been interested in purchasing another vessel for a while and would have already done so had it not been for the challenges caused by Covid and the limited availability of these size of vessels,’ he said.

‘This is a fundamentally important step in showing our commitment to the islands and demonstrates we have listened to the needs of our clients and key stakeholders.’

The vessel is slightly smaller than the 126m Clipper, which can carry up to 500 passengers and cruises at 18 to 20 knots.

It currently takes the Clipper at least seven hours to sail from Guernsey to Portsmouth, but takes more than 12 hours if it travels via Jersey.

The Straitsman will be an addition to the fleet, so Condor will have five ships by the end of the year.

The company said it was too early to say whether the vessel could be a long-term replacement for the Clipper, which was built in 1999.

The Straitsman was built in 2005 at a Dutch shipyard and has operated under different names in both Europe and New Zealand.

The ferry will be renamed and undertake berthing trials in Guernsey and Jersey later this year.

Money invested commercially by States used in purchase

STATES of Guernsey money has been used to help buy Condor’s new boat.

But not directly.

The States has put £20m. in the Guernsey Investment Fund, which was founded in 2018 and is managed by Ravenscroft.

It invests in projects and businesses, which have a Bailiwick focus, with the aim of long-term capital growth for its shareholders, which includes the States.

A States spokesman said it could not comment on the fund.

‘The Guernsey Investment Fund is a commercial entity and a professionally-managed fund,’ he said.

‘It is a matter of public record that the Guernsey Investment Fund is one of the funds in which the States has invested.

‘The vessel has been purchased by the fund, not by the States of Guernsey, and is therefore a commercial matter between the fund and Condor.’

A GIF spokeswoman said it had no comment to make on the purchase.