The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is investing more than £1.5 million to upgrade its lifeline freight services between the mainland and the Isles of Scilly. This includes a new commitment of £150,000 to improve the chilled freight delivery service to the Isles of Scilly as one of the many upgrades being made to the company’s new freight ship.

The Mali Rose is due to enter service this autumn and will replace the Gry Maritha, which has brought lifeline supplies to the islands 28 miles from the mainland for the last 27 years.

Like the Gry, the Mali Rose will continue to make the trip three times a week but will have much bigger capacity. A key improvement will be a £150,000 investment by the Steamship Group in chilled and freezer container storage, ensuring that perishable chilled and frozen goods are delivered to the islands at the same temperature that they arrive on the quayside in Penzance.

A new, heavy lift crane being installed on the Mali Rose will be able to lift 15 tonnes – well over twice the current six tonne limit of the crane on Gry Maritha – allowing the transport of a much wider mix of specialised freight including large vehicles.

Rob Goldsmith, Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “These investments will vastly improve the cold chain delivery service and is part of our commitment to improve the lifeline freight services we provide.

“With the increase in capacity we will be able to load freight and store items in a more accessible location, which means we can unload faster and offer more flexibility. We are also planning to introduce a new freight booking system during the winter which will allow us to track freight from the point of receipt to the point of delivery or collection by others. We believe this will be a significant benefit for island residents and all of our customers.

“We have no plans to change the current freight schedule of three days a week and we very much look forward to the Mali Rose’s first freight trip to the islands in the autumn.”

Andrew May, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group added: “The Board has as its clear mission to safeguard and improve the scheduled transport links to the islands over the longer term; the decision to purchase and upgrade the Mali Rose was taken very much with these objectives in mind.”

The Norwegian-built Mali Rose was acquired by the Steamship Group in May and is currently being upgraded in Penzance Dry Dock. The vessel is 12.6 metres longer and a metre wider than the Gry Maritha.

James Struthers, Head of Marine Services at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “The acquisition of the Mali Rose means we can make significant strides in improving the freight service to the islands. Freight will be better protected and the new crane offers much more flexibility to manage all sorts of special projects including the delivery of plant and vehicles.”

The purchase of the Mali Rose is one of the number of investments totaling £15 million made by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group in the last seven years to upgrade transport links to and from the islands.

The company has built a new terminal and hard runways at Land’s End Airport, purchased an eighth aircraft for its Skybus airline service, and invested in new landing technology to improve operating resilience in poor weather.

For more information about the Mali Rose.