The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group’s new freight ship, the Mali Rose, is making her inaugural trial sailing to the Isles of Scilly today, Monday 24th July.

In the near future the Mali Rose will replace the Gry Maritha, which has delivered supplies to the islands for the last 27 years. A farewell for the Gry will take place on St Mary’s in August before her last sailing, and islanders will be invited to say goodbye to the ship when she is berthed alongside the quay; a date for a farewell event will be announced soon.

The Mali Rose carried out her first sea trials in the Mount’s Bay area last week on Monday and Tuesday, after being granted approval to go to sea by the regulatory authorities on Friday 14th July. The ship will now make a number of trial runs on the 28 mile journey from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly to ensure that all operating systems and procedures are fully tested.

Once she enters full-time service, the Mali Rose will provide increased freight carrying capacity and capabilities for the benefit of island residents. The Mali Rose has larger and more flexible chilled and freezer storage. This will ensure that larger volumes of perishable cargo can be transported to and from Scilly. A  new heavy lift crane that can lift up to 15 tonnes – more than twice the six-tonne limit of the Gry Maritha’s crane –  will allow the transport of larger, specialised freight, such as large vehicles, plant and equipment.

Rob Goldsmith, Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “We are delighted that the Mali Rose is embarking on her first trial sailing to the Isles of Scilly ahead of entering full-time service.

“We are committed to sustaining and improving lifeline freight services to Scilly and the additional capabilities of the much larger Mali Rose together with other changes to our cargo operations will enable us to achieve this goal. Inevitably our freight operations will need to adapt and evolve over the coming months but the new vessel will help us to improve services for those living and working on the islands for many years to come. We are now working towards providing full traceability of freight and a simplified charging structure.”

The ship has been delayed in coming into service compared with the Company’s initial plan.

Rob explained: “The scope of the modification and upgrade works to the Mali Rose has expanded since the original acquisition of the ship including aspects such as the refrigeration and freezer facilities. We also made the decision to bring forward a series of modifications whilst we still had the Gry Maritha in service to comply with the requirements of the Mali Rose’s forthcoming major five-year regulatory survey. Whilst we have plans for further upgrades to the ship over time the recent major works will avoid having to do these modifications further down the line.

Andrew May, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “We have invested over £12.5 million in upgrades to Scilly’s transport system over the last 5 years alone and the Mali Rose is a highly significant further demonstration of our commitment to serving the long-term interests of the community thereby helping to facilitate growth in the local economy.”

The Norwegian-built Mali Rose was acquired by the Steamship Group last year. Because the vessel is 12.6 metres longer and a metre wider than the Gry Maritha, the Group has also had to manage a period of training and testing alongside the refit, to ensure crews were familiarised with the handling and manoeuvring of a larger vessel.

The purchase of the Mali Rose is one of the number of investments totalling £15 million made by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group over 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.