FREIGHT company Streamline Shipping is dispensing with the services of charter vessel MV Daroja and will instead ship goods in and out of the islands using Serco NorthLink’s freight boats.
Following a two-week trial period earlier this summer, Streamline confirmed on Monday that – after a decade on the route – the Daroja will be released from her charter this Wednesday (23 August).
The company’s managing director Gareth Crichton said the move – signalling the end of Shetland’s last dedicated lift-on, lift-off freight service – came after “some 35 years of providing the competitor container shipping service”.
He said: “Streamline is already a significant user of the roro [roll-on, roll-off], with our freight services split between container and trailer operations. The move is designed to rationalise our Orkney and Shetland shipping while taking advantage of the increasingly attractive capacity and pricing options available on the government-sponsored roro freight service.
“We know the frequency of service and transit times available on the roro are attractive to our customers and we have been working for some time to create efficiencies that will allow us to transfer business across without change to our price structure.”
He added: “Streamline has operated without subsidy since 2014 and our business is based on finding the best shipping solution for our customers.
“The recent trial where we have used only the roro has provided encouraging results and by releasing the Daroja our position moves from being both a customer and competitor of the roro, to being one of its biggest trade accounts.”
Company founder and chairman Stuart Roberts said: “We are very fortunate to have enjoyed the support of a wide and loyal customer base over the past 35 years. But the market conditions now are very different to those that prevailed when the container service commenced.
“It feels like the right time to change. We look forward to continuing to service our customers’ shipping needs, and indeed to growing our island business generally, albeit without the ship in Streamline colours and by swapping our familiar blue boxes for wheels.”
Streamline was one of the bidders when Serco won the contract to provide passenger and freight services between Lerwick, Kirkwall and Aberdeen back in 2012. The company unsuccessfully challenged the award of the contract.