11 November 2022
St Helena’s commercial cargo shipping needs are currently served by the MV Helena, through AW Ship Management Ltd (AWSML). This is on a five year plus five year contract. The contract for the first five years expires in February 2023.
Since earlier this year, SHG and AWSML have been in discussions for the MV Helena service to continue operations until August 2023, when the MV Helena is scheduled to enter dry dock for maintenance. This would allow SHG time to issue a tender to the market for a replacement service commencing around the time the MV Helena would be withdrawn from service in August.
However, AWSML recently notified SHG that they could not continue the service beyond February under the current contractual arrangements. This was due to low cargo volumes affecting the commercial viability of the service.
SHG is now in discussions with several potential service providers, including AWSML, regarding the provision of shipping services from February 2023.
SHG would like to reassure the public that commercial cargo operations to the Island will continue from February onwards. There are several viable options available, and SHG expects to be in a position to announce the interim operator shortly.
It should be noted that in the meantime, consolidation services for shipping originating in the UK are also being arranged, to ensure there is minimal interruption or delay to supplies. Large importers have already been consulted and updated on this matter.
Minister for Treasury, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Mark Brooks said:
“As a remote Island, cargo services are of paramount importance to St Helena. Whilst these developments have shortened the timeframe in which we now need to identify a replacement commercial cargo provider, there should be minimal interruption to cargo services and we are committed to finding a solution come March 2023.”
“My team is working hard to ensure we have an interim operator that will not only service the Island’s needs, but will help us explore new long-term options. We recognise that the cost of freight was increasing and this is having a dramatic impact on the cost of living. We are hopeful that the new options put forward will help to test new service models and lead to a more economical service in the long run.”
“SHG is exploring all potential options for an interim operator whilst a long-term solution is identified through the upcoming tender process.”
Notes to Editor
SHG entered into an agreement with AWSML in 2018 to provide international cargo shipping services to and from St Helena. The agreement was for an initial five year period, with the possibility to extend this by another five years were both parties in agreement at the end of the initial five year period.
10 November 2022