The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) has signed landmark contracts with shipbuilder Piriou, which will secure the long-term future of passenger travel and freight supplies to and from the islands.
The signing of the contracts means that two new ships will be delivered in 2026, making journeys faster, more comfortable, and environmentally sustainable, whilst improving reliability.
The group, which operates passenger and cargo links between Penzance and St Mary’s, as well as an airline with flights to the islands year round, has signed contracts for a new 600-seat passenger vessel, Scillonian IV, and a freight vessel.
Brittany-based Piriou has been developing designs for the two vessels since its appointment as preferred ship builder last September, work which will continue over the coming months, with construction to begin in the spring.
The new vessels will be delivered using finance provided by long-term partner to ISSG, Lombard (part of NatWest Group).
Stuart Reid, CEO of ISSG said: “Our vessel project team and partners have been working very hard to put in place the final elements of a long-term plan which commenced in 2019. Signing these contracts allows us to provide a strong and sustainable solution that meets the travel and freight requirements of the Isles of Scilly for generations to come.”
“We have put in place rigorous measures to ensure the project is delivered on time and on budget, including appointing project managers to oversee the build at Piriou’s shipyard in Vietnam. I would like to thank both Piriou and Lombard for the productive and collaborative working relationship which has allowed us to reach this point.”
Ian Howard, chair of ISSG, added: “We are working from a position of financial strength and profitability. Our policy of retaining cash within the business and taking long-term strategic decisions in the best interests of the islands, has allowed us to progress with our plans. We look forward to working collaboratively with all partners, customers and stakeholders to ensure we have two new ships we can all be proud of, helping to secure a long-term future for the Isles of Scilly.”
Now that contracts are signed and finance is in place, final preparations will be made over the coming months to ensure works start on schedule in the spring. Both vessels will be built by Piriou in Vietnam, before being transported to Concarneau, Brittany for commissioning. The group’s existing passenger vessel, Scillonian III, which is currently undergoing her annual schedule of maintenance, has been a workhorse for the islands since 1977 and will continue to serve the route during the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
The new vessels will feature a range of new technologies. The new passenger vessel will carry up to 600 people (a 24% increase on current levels) whilst reducing journey times. It will feature roll and pitch reduction systems, thereby enhancing passenger comfort, and is designed utilising modern propulsion technologies that improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The vessel is also designed to integrate further enhancements as technology develops.
The new freight vessel will also include a range of improvements on the current vessel, including a much-enhanced cargo capacity and an improved capacity for perishable, chilled and frozen goods. The freight vessel will incorporate a passenger lounge with accommodation for 12 passengers.