Ipswich: Jobs go as Rotterdam freight ferry service is axed

A FREIGHT ferry service between Suffolk and the Netherlands is to be axed with the loss of around 20 jobs – just five months after the second of two new purpose-built vessels was allocated to the route.

The roll-on roll-off service between Ipswich and Rotterdam, operated by CLdN, part of the Luxembourg-based Cobelfret company, will cease to operate following a final sailing on Friday, August 17.

Nobody at CLdN was prepared to comment on the closure but in a letter to customers, a copy of which has been seen by the EADT, the company indicated the that the decision was due to the continuing economic downturn.

“CLdN ro-ro SA regret to announce that under the prevailing circumstances, the board have decided to stop the service between Rotterdam and Ipswich,” the letter read.

“The last sailing is planned for Friday, August 17, 2012 – schedule to be confirmed. We would like to thank you for your help and support over the past years.”

It is understood that around 20 workers, including drivers and managerial and supervisory staff, who were employed through an agency, have been told that they face redundancy.

One of the people affected, who declined to be named, said that a manager, two supervisors, a charge hand and 14 drivers had been made redundant, and that some other jobs might also be at risk.

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The Ipswich-Rotterdam service has been operated by the mv Capucine and mv Severine, two of four 152-metre “Ipswichmax” vessels ordered by CLdN from the Kyokuyo shipyard to Japan and built to a specification to enable safe transit along the River Orwell, including passage under the Orwell Bridge.

Associated British Ports (ABP), which owns the Port of Ipswich. also invested nearly �500,000 in an innovative swinging wire arrangement, believed to be their first of its kind in the UK, to assist the manoeuvring and positioning of the vessels within the restraints of the 200 metres of water between the ports West Bank and East Bank facilities.

A spokesman for ABP also declined to comment on the closure of the route, saying it was a matter for CLdN.

The loss of the Rotterdam route, which because of Ipswich’s location offered a shorter road journey compared with other ports on England’s east coast, will be blow to hauliers.

Stena Line operates a twin-vessel freight ferry service between Harwich and Rotterdam, in addition to its passenger and car ferry route between Harwich and the Hook of Holland.

Pim de Lange, Stena Line’s director for North Sea service, said the news was not a particular surprise as freight business was generally poor at present due to the economic climate.

However, he said Stena had the backing of a strong owner and would continue to operate its services.