Isles of Scilly “significantly underserved” by current ferry operation, says Harland and Wolff

Posted By on 26th November 2023

by Peter Tremayne

The clock is ticking towards a deadline for Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff to announce details of a takeover bid for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company (ISSC.)

Harland and Wolff has until 5pm on 21st December to announce a formal bid, following the ISSC’s rejection of an initial approach.

Harland and Wolff told the Stock Exchange:  “As previously announced, the company has been considering the opportunity to build and/or operate ferries to service the Isles of Scilly to Penzance route, which it believes is significantly underserved by its current operation.

“The company believes there is a clear strategic, operational and financial rationale for the proposed acquisition in pursuit of this and is disappointed that the board of ISSCL unequivocally rejected this proposal. The board of Harland & Wolff continue to consider their options.

“The making of any firm offer would be subject to the satisfaction of customary pre-conditions, including due diligence and there can at this stage be no assurances that any offer will be made, or the terms of any such offer, even if these pre-conditions are satisfied or waived.”

But the ISCC board, which runs all ferry and plane services to and from the Isles of Scilly has "unequivocally rejected" the initial proposal.

The two firms are both currently planning to build new ferries to transport passengers and freight to the islands, 28 miles off Cornwall.

In April, ISSCL, which has run shipping services to Scilly since the 1920s, announced it has taken out a private £33.6m loan to pay for three new vessels.

In August, Harland and Wolff announced plans to run the service and build new boats using £48m of government levelling up funding that has not yet been allocated.

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