Faced with rising costs and what UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called an unsustainable situation, the UK’s Home Office is chartering an accommodation vessel to provide housing for migrants caught attempting to enter the country in small boats.

The government said it recognizes that using alternative sites and vessels involves difficult decisions, but that urgent action is needed to reduce expensive hotel use and the attraction of coming to the UK illegally.

The Home Office chartered Bibby Stockholm, an accommodation vessel built in 1976 which has previously been used in similar capacities in Germany and the Netherlands as well as to house construction workers in the offshore gas and wind sectors.

The vessel is operated by Bibby Marine which says it was recently refurbished and is currently available. The vessel has been chartered for at least 18 months and will be docked at Portland Port, in Dorset.

Bibby Stockholm is 306ft long with three decks of accommodations and 222 cabins. It is 10,659 gross tons and has a maximum capacity of 500 people. It has onboard boilers for hot water and heat and connections for shore power and sewerage.

Officials for Portland Port said they were “keen to play our part in the national effort to house,” the asylum seekers. They said they would be working with local agencies, including health and emergency services, to prepare for the arrival of Bibby Stockholm.

Photo by Paul Dallaway

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