The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is set to invest in a replacement for its Gry Maritha freight ship – the workhorse that provides a lifeline service to the community of the Isles of Scilly located 28 miles off the mainland.

The company is in the process of buying a larger freight ship, currently called the Mali Rose, as the first step in a strategy to renew its vessels. Steamship Company bosses have also revealed that detailed evaluation work is underway on replacing its Scillonian III passenger ship.

The Mali Rose arrived in Penzance from Norway this week and subject to final legal agreement, the Steamship Company expects to take ownership in the next few days.

The Gry Maritha was built in 1981 and acquired by the Steamship Company in 1989. For 27 years she has made the lifeline thrice-weekly 56-mile round trip from Penzance to Scilly, carrying essential supplies for the islands’ 2,250 residents and more than 100,000 visitors every year.

Rob Goldsmith, chief executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “Buying the Mali Rose will be a huge milestone for the company and will mark the start of our vessel replacement strategy.

“The Gry Maritha has been a faithful workhorse and is part of the fabric of island life but it’s time to upgrade to a bigger, younger ship that is better able to manage peaks in demand and special projects.

“The company intends to talk to island residents and customers about the new vessel and how we can make further major investments to adapt it to best meet their specific needs.

“Having invested significantly in making our air operation more robust we are now turning our attention to the replacement of our ships. This is first step in this exciting process and detailed work on the concepts, designs and financing of a replacement for the Scillonian III is already is underway.

“We will share more detail on this next phase at the earliest opportunity.”

In recent years the Steamship Group has built a new terminal and hard runways at Land’s End Airport, bought an eighth aircraft for its Skybus airline, and is investing in new landing technology (EGNOS) to improve operating resilience in poor weather.

Chairman, Andrew May, added: “We have invested over £10 million during the last five years upgrading the transport link to and from the Islands and this is a further major commitment by the company to replace and improve its assets, and so improve the service we are able to offer the community.”