The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has appointed specialist ship designers BMT to advise on new vessel designs to provide lifeline passenger and freight services to the Isles of Scilly.

The Steamship Group is seeking to replace its marine assets including the purpose-built Scillonian III passenger ferry which entered service in 1977 and was refitted in 2013, and its freight ship the Gry Maritha, built in 1981.

BMT has pioneered the design and development of purpose-built passenger ferries since the early 1980s and has a growing portfolio of proven vessel designs which include commercial ships, offshore energy support vessels and high performance naval craft.

BMT will work closely with the Steamship Group and the islands’ community through public consultation on new custom designs.

Stuart Reid, Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “BMT have world-class naval architecture and engineering experience and we’re delighted to have them on board as we start to shape our asset replacement programme to meet the needs of the islands’ community and visitors to Scilly.

“We are consulting islanders and key stakeholders about what sort of marine service they would like to see in the future, and BMT are working with us on translating this into concept designs. We will be giving an update on progress at our AGM in October.”

 Noel Tomlinson, Business Development Director for Specialised Ship Design at BMT said, “Our highly-skilled team at BMT are thrilled to be working with the Steamship Group on greener, more efficient vessel designs. Our proven portfolio of passenger and freight ferry designs ensures that we are best placed to support lifeline ferry operators such as the Steamship Group.

“The designs will maximise passenger and crew comfort, will be capable of operating in the challenging conditions of the Atlantic ocean route, whilst meeting all existing and known future regulatory requirements. In addition, the new designs will be optimised to meet the unique requirements of the UK mainland and island ports.”

The Steamship Group has set up a Marine Asset Replacement Committee chaired by non-executive director Kevin George, who is the current Group Chairman of Red Funnel Group.

The Isles of Scilly are 28 miles off the South West coast of Cornwall. The vast majority of island supplies and half of all visitors (which total more than 200,000 a year) arrive by sea, with the rest coming by air.