Scottish Government controlled Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has completed the purchase of the former Seatruck freight ferries HELLIAR and HILDASAY. Until now the vessels have been chartered for use on Northern Isles services, initially on a crewed basis from Seatruck themselves from 2009/10 then bareboat chartered from investment company Fortress since March 2017.
Both vessels are currently chartered to Serco owned Northlink Ferries and will continue to be so. CMAL also own the Northlink passenger vessels used by Northlink, which operates the Northern Isles routes to and between Orkney and Shetland having won the right to do so via a tender process. The company is currently competing against Scottish Government controlled Caledonian MacBrayne and German company FRS for the right to run the service for a further eight years from the 31st October this year.
The then RR TRIUMPH and RR SHIELD were purchased by Seatruck in 2007, joining the fleet the following year when their existing charters expired and when the RR prefix was dropped from their names. TRIUMPH later became CLIPPER RACER before adopting her current name HILDASAY when chartered to Serco Northlink. She was originally built as one of three sisters as LEHOLA for Estonian Shipping Company (ESCO). Sister-ship HELLIAR was SHIELD for Seatruck before she adopted her current name when also chartered to SERCO Northlink. She was originally ESCO’s LEILI. Both vessels have had numerous operators over the years with P&O, Norfolk Line, and Norse Merchant Ferries having made use of at least one of the vessels on Irish Sea services at one time. HILDASAY and HELLIAR are sister-ships to ARROW (currently long-term chartered by Isle of Man Steam Packet) and Seatruck’s CLIPPER RANGER.