Islanders are being invited to suggest a name for a new freight and livestock vessel that has been secured by NorthLink to replace the ageing Hascosay early next year.
The 122m ro-ro ferry Shield, which was built in Spain in 1999, will be chartered from owners Seatruck Ferries of Heysham from the end of January.
And as with other NorthLink-operated vessels, the company is asking people to put forward names. The winner will be closely involved in the naming ceremony and receive four return trips on a NorthLink vessel.
NorthLink chief executive Bill Davidson said: “I’m delighted that we have secured this vessel which I feel sure will be welcomed by our many freight and livestock customers. Hascosay and her crew have done a sterling job for us over the last seven years but her age is beginning to tell and to secure reliability going forward as well as the necessary space to meet demand the time was right for us to replace [her].
“We anticipate that Shield‘s twin internal freight decks will provide more than enough capacity to satisfy demand in all but the busiest of periods such as the height of the livestock season. However, we also have additional capacity on the weather deck for accommodating hazardous cargo or for use during extreme peak periods.”
NorthLink commercial director Cynthia Spencer said: “We’re inviting islanders to send us suggestions which ideally should fit in with the names of the existing fleet. We will then choose the most appropriate from those entered. The winning entry will secure for its author the prize of four return trips with cabin for two and car (or equivalent) on one of our passenger ships and also the honour of being centre-stage at the formal naming ceremony early in the New Year – and if the winner would prefer to travel on ‘their’ freight vessel then I’m sure that can be arranged!”
The quest to source a suitable replacement for Hascosay has been going on for some time. Hascosay, which joined the NorthLink fleet in 2002, is now 38 years old and has insufficient vehicle deck capacity to meet growing needs particularly at times of peak demand.
The time-charter arrangement, identical to that currently in place with NorthLink’s other dedicated freight vessel Clare, is an industry-standard practice and represents a value for money option for the chartering company as the owner continues to assume financial responsibility for all ship-related costs such as maintenance and repairs as well as crewing.
While the global search for a suitable replacement for Hascosay has been going on NorthLink has been holding parallel discussions with the crew and the seafarers’ unions Nautilus and RMT. Assurances have been given to the 40 crew members on Hascosay that they will be retained and redeployed on the company’s other vessels.
Like Hascosay, the new ship can also accommodate up to 12 passengers but her twin bunk cabins are en suite.