The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has explained why it is still using the Gry Maritha 12 months after the purchase of its new freight ship.
The Mali Rose was acquired in May 2016 and due to enter service last autumn.
The company announced last August that it was investing more than £1.5 million to upgrade its freight services, including £150,000 on chilled and freezer container storage.
However, more than six months after the Mali Rose was meant to be up and running, Scilly is still being served by the Gry Maritha, which has carried freight to and from the islands for the last 27 years. This has led to speculation that the new vessel is not fit for purpose.
A spokesman for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group told This is Scilly News: “Work on the Mali Rose has taken longer than we originally planned due to our decision to take the opportunity to give the ship its major five-year regulatory survey earlier than required and the complex nature of the conversion and compliance work. This will be better in the long run so that we can minimise any future impact on services.
"We have now installed the new deck crane, which will significantly increase lifting capacity, and we have installed larger and upgraded chilled and freezer storage, which will greatly enhance the shipment of perishable goods.
"In the next few weeks we’ll be carrying out a structured programme of sea trials and also testing our loading and off-loading procedures which are all part of the certification and commissioning process.
"The Mali Rose is 12.6 metres longer and a metre wider than the Gry Maritha so there will inevitably be a period of training and testing as our crews familiarise themselves with the handling and manoeuvring of a larger vessel in our local operating environment.
"In the meantime the Gry will continue to serve Scilly until the Mali Rose is fully commissioned and we are satisfied that it can smoothly take over freight operations.”