Freight demand leads to fleet expansion for Isles of Scilly Steamship Group

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG) has signed contracts on a new landing craft to meet increasing demand for freight deliveries to the Isles of Scilly. The new vessel will be named Gugh, an echo of the Group’s former freight vessel of the same name, which served as the inter-island launch between 1961 and 1991.

The vessel is a 22m landing craft, which will add another dimension to ISSG’s offer, allowing goods to be transported direct to shore, rather than via crane-lift. It has been built in the UK by Coastal Workboats, to the specifications of another established shipbuilder, Damen. Damen invested in Coastal Workboats by ordering speculative built Landing Utility Vessels with the ambition to contribute to shipbuilding practices in the UK. Because of that, Coastal and Damen are able to deliver the vessel to the Isles of Scilly in only a few weeks’ time.

This will be the fourth freight-specific vessel in ISSG’s fleet, working alongside its main cargo vessel Gry Maritha, which operates on the Penzance to Scilly route, as well as the Lyonesse Lady and Swift Lady, which serve the inter-island service.

Stuart Reid, CEO of ISSG said: “The level of demand we’re currently experiencing means that it’s sensible to bring an additional vessel into service. With the Gugh we have found an excellent vessel built by a highly reputable Devon shipyard. The design has proven abilities, with sister ships operating in and amongst the Scottish islands. The Gugh will not only add additional resilience to the fleet, but as a landing craft the Gugh has been designed and built to deliver direct to shore, allowing the transport of large mechanical plant from the mainland to the Isles of Scilly.”

Andrew Fogden, Freight Manager at ISSG said: “Over the next decade we are expecting an increased level of demand for our freight services to the islands. The addition of the Gugh to our fleet will improve our service for islanders and ensures that we can continue to provide an outstanding service to a wide variety of customers.”

Brian Pogson, Managing Director at Coastal Workboats said: “Coastal Workboats is a company built on community. So, we’re delighted to partner with another Southwest based business on a project that will impact our coastal and island communities so positively. The Gugh coming into service demonstrates the impressive flexible capability of the LUV2208 design – equally at home in aquaculture as it is in a ferry capacity.”

Frederik van der Linde at Damen said: “Working with Coastal Workboats and the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has been an absolute joy. Damen started the collaboration with Coastal Workboats a couple of years ago to advance UK shipbuilding and the transfer of knowledge. Seeing that being successful is a testimony to everyone who contributed to that.  

With the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, we have found a great partner and are very proud seeing the ship working on such an important lifeline route.”

The Gugh will be based on the Isles of Scilly, with moorings at St Mary’s. ISSG is currently recruiting crew for the vessel, who will be based on the islands.

She will be able to carry roughly 50 tonnes of freight during normal operations and has a breadth of 7.5m. The vessel will have the capability to carry up to 12 passengers, the same as the Gry Maritha.

The addition of the Gugh is part of the Group’s new vessel replacement project. Earlier this year the Group also signed contracts for the construction of two new vessels which will enter service in 2026.