Over recent years the size of vessels operating between the UK and the near continent has increased. This, together with the fact that many smaller vessels have been sold or scrapped after reaching the end of their lives, has posed problems for many of the UK’s upriver ports and wharves, which are often too small to be able to handle the new, larger coastal cargo vessels.
The main problem is that the draught of many vessels, such as the 4,470dwt Trans Frej operating on the Pal Line service to Goole from Swedish ports, is too great. She often has to lighten at Hull or Immingham before sailing up the Ouse because of her fully-laden draught. Such diversions eat into operating costs; in effect the ships have outgrown the ports, and the line may have to move to Hull.
Many of the latest designs, such as the popular Damen Combi Coaster 3850, will fit into the locks at Goole, but have a fully-laden draught of over 5m, and so the port must rely on older coasters, such as the 1,412dwt Martin. However, these do not carry as much cargo and thus have to make more trips. Coasters such as Martin, useful for small parcels of cargo, are getting old, and such vessels are not being replaced as they reach the end of their working life.