The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has named French shipbuilding company Piriou as its preferred partner in the construction of the Group’s two new vessels.

The group announced plans to replace two of its vessels in April 2023, with one passenger ferry and one cargo vessel to be updated. The intention is to build a new Scillonian IV passenger ship and replace the current Gry Maritha cargo vessel.

The declaration comes after several site visits by the Steamship Group’s management to Piriou’s factories in France and Vietnam.

The next step will be coordinated design work between the two companies, with the intention of signing contracts for the construction in October this year. Construction is expected to begin at Piriou’s Vietnam shipyard in 2024. The vessels will be transferred to France for completion before delivery in H1 2026.

The new passenger vessel will improve customer comfort, in line with feedback the Steamship Group received from passengers.

The cargo vessel will improve its current capacity and also provide 12 passenger berths.

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The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group CEO Stuart Reid: “This is a big step forward and an important milestone for our vessel replacement programme, which will deliver new and improved vessels for the Isles of Scilly. The selection process started with over 30 shipyards, which have been evaluated by our experienced project team.

“The project team was unanimous in its decision to appoint Piriou as its preferred shipyard on the basis of experience, technical expertise in delivering specialist ferries and competitiveness.”

Piriou president Vincent Faujour said: “We are delighted and honoured to be named as the preferred shipyard by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group for the construction of its new passenger ferry, Scillonian IV and new cargo vessel. As we have been building and maintaining lifeline ferries for decades, we know how important this project is for the communities depending on the sea link services to the Isles of Scilly.

“Working closely with the Group’s project team, our teams in Brittany and Vietnam are already fully dedicated to deliver to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group the most suitable vessels, designed for rough seas, with increased comfort and a reduced environmental footprint.”

Faujour noted the links between Brittany, the northern French region where Piriou is based and the southern regions of the UK: “Finally, as Concarneau and Penzance have been twin towns since 1982, I must say it is a real pleasure to participate in a project that will strengthen the links between Cornwall and the Breton Cornouaille.”