P&O Ferries yesterday announced that it has agreed to purchase a dedicated freight ferry in order to meet the growing demand for space from haulage customers throughout its operations.
The company will take delivery of the El Greco, currently operated by the Spanish shipping line Trasmediterranea, during September and will deploy the vessel on its Dover-Calais service to offer additional peak time and refit season capacity in a growing market. The ship will also be used as a refit relief vessel in P&O's Irish Sea and North Sea operations.
Helen Deeble, chief executive, said: "This investment is designed to help freight customers achieve their just in time delivery schedules by boosting the P&O Short Sea fleet from six to seven ships at peak times. It will also enable us to guarantee sufficient capacity and reliability through the refit season in all sectors.
"It represents a significant step forward for our business and is a move I believe will be welcomed by customers and staff alike."
The El Greco was built to international standards under the British flag and Lloyd's Register classification and was delivered new in 2000 to Norfolk Line as the Midnight Merchant for use on their Dover - Dunkerque route. Trasmediterranea acquired the ship a year ago.
It has a carrying capacity of 125 articulated lorries which is comparable to P&O's other dedicated Dover-Calais freighter, the European Seaway. It can also carry in excess of 300 passengers and is equipped with passenger cabins for use during refit cover on the Irish Sea and North Sea routes.
On joining the P&O Ferries fleet the ship will be re-named the European Endeavour. It will be British flagged and will carry officers and crew on British terms and conditions of employment. Officers and crew will be recruited from within P&O's existing ferry operations and via specialist agencies.