The Port of Dover has welcomed its first Geest Line vessel, heralding the start of a long-term partnership with the expanding Europe-to-Caribbean freight firm.
The 14,000-ton Baltic Klipper is the first of a newly strengthened fleet of five Geest Line ships to discharge its eastbound fruit cargo in Kent following loading in Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
The call follows a relocation of the firm’s south of England cargo handling from Portsmouth, prompted by the need to accommodate a revised rotation schedule and more shipping capacity.
Geest Line initially joins other commercial shipping lines operating from Dover’s eastern docks cargo terminal.
Operations will move to new, state-of-the-art specialist handling facilities at the western docks once a major development project is completed in 2019.
Captain Peter Dixon, Managing Director of Geest Line, who was dockside when the Baltic Klipper came in, said: “The arrival of our first vessel is truly the start of a new era of imports and exports for UK and European trade through Dover.
“As well as being able to handle our requirements immediately, Dover offers the prospect of further growth through its exciting port development on the western docks. This potential makes Dover an ideal partner for Geest Line operations.”
Captain Dixon added: “Our move to Dover has been achieved and accommodated smoothly and professionally thanks to the Port of Dover and our agents George Hammond plc.
“They couldn’t have been more helpful. The welcome we have had has been extremely positive and we look forward to being an active member of the port community here.”
Geest Line’s move is good news for the Port of Dover which already supports 22,000 jobs, many of them in east Kent.
Barbara Buczek, the Port’s Director of Corporate Development and Operational Business, said: “Geest Line’s fleet expansion and increased capacity have inevitably changed the necessary logistics for their transatlantic sailings, inter-island stops in the Caribbean and European calls.
“We’re delighted that the Port of Dover is their choice for cargo operations in the south of England. We look forward to a long, positive relationship with Geest Line as we grow our cargo facilities with Dover Western Docks Revival providing ongoing employment stability and significant future job creation opportunities as well as facilitating a prosperous outlook for the economy.”
The move to Dover comes as Geest Line replaces its fleet of four charter vessels with five larger and newer ships, increasing container and breakbulk capacity by over 40%.
As well as Baltic Klipper, the new vessels, all chartered from Seatrade, are the Lombok Strait, Luzon Strait, Atlantic Klipper and Royal Klipper.
Two port calls in Colombia have been added for fruit loading while a new stop at Flushing in The Netherlands will help with northern European freight handling.
Headquartered in Fareham, Hampshire, Geest Line handles all kinds of general cargo from tiny perishables to large project machinery, returning from the Caribbean with fruit, mainly bananas, for markets in the UK and across Europe.