A former Royal Navy submarine officer who runs the ferry firm awarded a £13.8m authorities contract to run cross-Channel freight companies within the occasion of a no-deal Brexit says the agency will constitution vessels in time to launch earlier than the top of March.
Ben Sharp, the chief government of Seaborne Freight, dismissed considerations concerning the firm’s skill to run a cargo service after it was revealed it doesn’t personal any boats.
He mentioned the agency was run by a set of “outdated canine”, backed by Metropolis buyers, and could be able to launch a cargo service between Ramsgate in Kent and the Belgian port of Ostend earlier than the UK’s official exit from the European Union on 29 March.
“Seaborne Freight is not going to be a ship proprietor, we’re chartering in ships,” he instructed the Guardian. “It’s a novel mixture of seafaring, Metropolis and finance and ferry trade expertise, many years of it. This isn’t a startup. We’re all outdated canine at this.”
Paul Messenger, a Conservative county councillor for Ramsgate, had questioned whether or not Ramsgate was able to receiving cargo ships given the low capability of berths on the port.
However Sharp, who spent 10 years within the Royal Navy earlier than organising a number of transport firms, mentioned dredging would permit Ramsgate to be prepared in time.
“Dredging is beginning this week. There’s a dredger down there now and we’ll have berths and we are going to begin a service with two vessels earlier than the top of March.”
He mentioned it was widespread observe for cross-Channel freight firms to constitution boats slightly than proudly owning them however declined to say from which ship-owning firm Seaborne would lease the vessels.
Sharp added that Seaborne had been arrange with the involvement of haulage firms seeking to enhance cross-Channel capability, slightly than to capitalise on alternatives offered by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
“We launched into this venture no matter Brexit as a haulage trade alternative. They [haulage firms] are shopping for capability from us.
“Don’t have a look at this by way of the prism of Brexit. We didn’t make investments on this on the expectation of something from the federal government.”
He additionally denied ideas on Twitter that one of many firms’ buyers was Mark Bamford, the brother of the Conservative donor and pro-Brexit chairman of digger agency JCB.
Theresa Might’s spokeswoman, when requested if No 10 was assured Seaborne might do what was requested, mentioned: “As with all contracts, DfT rigorously vetted the corporate’s industrial, technical and monetary place earlier than making the award.”
Seaborne Freight launched in April 2017 with the intention of operating a ferry freight service from Ramsgate to Ostend. It’s exempt from submitting full accounts with Corporations Home due to its small measurement.
Publicly out there paperwork present that it was based in late 2017 by a number of former staff of My Ferry Hyperlink, a cross-Channel service beforehand owned by Eurotunnel.
The corporate had belongings of simply £36,602 as of 30 April, together with £799 money within the financial institution. It has money owed of £416,607, due for compensation inside a 12 months. Over the last monetary 12 months it paid consultancy charges to its administrators, value a mixed £81,778.
Seaborne Freight’s founder, Glenn Dudley, was beforehand the freight gross sales and advertising supervisor for My Ferry Hyperlink, which operated two cross-Channel ferries and was owned by Eurotunnel.
My Ferry Hyperlink was bought to rival ferry agency DFDS in 2017 amid a monopoly investigation by the Competitors and Markets Authority into whether or not Eurotunnel also needs to be allowed to run cross-Channel ships.
Fellow director Jean-Michel Copyans can be a former MyFerryLink cargo director.