In what is seen as a blow to Harland & Wolff, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has chosen Concarneau-based Piriou as its preferred shipbuilder to build two new vessels for the Penzance/Isles of Scilly route.
In April, the Group announced private finance had been agreed for the replacement of two vessels and the intent to select a preferred shipyard.
Piriou has over 50 years’ experience building more than 600 vessels. It has more than 1,400 skilled employees, including an in-house design team and production facilities in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The company has a strong balance sheet with an annual turnover of over €300 mill.
Appointing Piriou comes after months of thorough evaluation, technical questioning and site visits to France and Vietnam, as part of the Group’s due diligence processes.
Isles of Scilly Steamship and Piriou will start detailed design work with the intention of signing contracts in October, 2023 for the new ‘Scillonian IV’ passenger ship and a new cargo vessel to replace the current ‘Gry Maritha’.
Construction of both vessels will commence in Piriou’s Vietnam yard in the spring of next year. The vessels will then be transported to Piriou’s French shipyard for commissioning and trials, ready for delivery ahead of the 2026 summer season.
Working with a team of experts, the project will be managed by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group’s two on-site project managers to ensure that there is constant representation at the shipyard and that the build programme remains on budget and on time for delivery.
The new faster ferry will be designed to provide passengers with greater comfort through improved stabilisation, accessibility and an overall enhanced experience, in line with feedback received during the Group’s consultation with visitors and residents on Scilly.
In addition, the new cargo vessel will have increased freight capacity and provide comfortable transport for up to 12 passengers per sailing during the winter.
Both vessels will be fitted with the latest propulsion technology with improved environmental operations along with the capability to be upgraded as green technologies mature.
Stuart Reid, Isles of Scilly Steamship Group CEO, said: “This is a big step forward and an important milestone for our vessel replacement programme, which will deliver new and improved vessels for the Isles of Scilly.
“The selection process started with over 30 shipyards, which have been evaluated by our experienced project team. The project team, consisting of a mix of technical expertise, shipbuilding experience and the four masters of our current vessels, worked through a series of bids delivered by the shipyards.
“Visits took place to short listed shipyards to complete our extensive due diligence. The project team was unanimous in its decision to appoint Piriou as its preferred shipyard on the basis of experience, technical expertise in delivering specialist ferries and competitiveness,” he explained.
Ian Howard, Isles of Scilly Steamship Group Chairman, added: “Piriou has an excellent reputation for building both passenger ferries and cargo vessels. Its naval architects and senior management team have conducted multiple visits to Penzance and the Isles of Scilly and have a full understanding of the challenges of the route and infrastructure to support the new vessels.
“We are very excited to be working with Piriou and building vessels which will deliver significant service enhancements,” he said.
Vincent Faujour, President of Piriou shipyard, said: “We are delighted and honoured to be named as the preferred shipyard by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group for construction of its new passenger ferry ‘Scillonian IV’ and new cargo vessel.
“As we have been building and maintaining lifeline ferries for decades, we know how important this project is for the communities depending on the sea link services to the Isles of Scilly.
“Working closely with the Group’s project team, our teams in Brittany and Vietnam are already fully dedicated to deliver to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group the most suitable vessels, designed for rough seas, with increased comfort and a reduced environmental footprint.
“Finally, as Concarneau and Penzance have been twin towns since 1982, I must say it is a real pleasure to participate in a project that will strengthen the links between Cornwall and the Breton ‘Cornouaille’,” he said.
Harland & Wolff was just one of the several shipyards bidding for the contracts and had earmarked Appledore, the builder of the current ‘Scillonian III’, to construct the vessels should its bid have been successful.