With the re-launch of Smyril Line Cargo, the owners of RoPax ferry M/S Norröna have brought the freight service associated with the ferry back under Faroese control, reintroducing the seafood-friendly ‘rolling cargo’ advantage.
Much water has passed under the bridge since 2003 when the Faroese received the magnificent roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry Norröna as a newbuild from Germany’s Flender Werft in Lübeck. The fast-moving vessel changed shipping realities in the Northeast Atlantic island communities, in particular the Faroe Islands and Iceland, as a new connection to the European Continent was established.
Importantly, apart from offering destinations for cruise tourists from different countries, via Denmark to Faroes and Iceland — and from the Faroe Islands to Denmark and Iceland — the Norröna gave Faroese and Icelandic exporters a valued alternative route and means of transport.
Fast forward a decade. Following a review of earlier arrangements for cargo — in effect this function of the ferry had been outsourced to a Danish freight forwarder — owner and operator Smyril Line decided to relaunch its Cargo division, this time as a distinct, subsidiary company.
Today Smyril Line Cargo is busy signing up clients, primarily seafood exporters looking for the optimum transport especially for chilled goods such as, for example, fresh portions of salmon or fresh fillets of whitefish.
“This service offers the fastest and safest way by sea from the Faroes and Iceland to Continental Europe,” said managing director Rene Dahl Olesen. “So we’re keen to introduce our freight service in the marketplace to help make sure seafood exporters in this part of the North Atlantic get the opportunity to make use of the best seaborne transport and logistics service available.”
Mr. Dahl Olesen pointed to the advantage offered by ro/ro cargo and the combination of factors that give the M/S Norröna freight service an edge as it covers the triangle that joins Seyðisfjörður in Iceland, via the Faroese capital Tórhavn, with Hirtshals in northern Jutland, Denmark.
“For fresh seafood in transport, time is of the essence. You want to avoid seeing the value of your cargo reduced unnecessarily because of delays or because of damages caused by any unwanted exposures, shocks or bumps. With our service you are well protected against such risks — the ferry operates at a service speed of 21 knots, the cargo is kept secure in reefer trailers, stable and steady on wheels, all the way from dispatch to delivery. The cargo is not subjected to crane hoisting, nor is it transferred from one unit to another. The dimensions of our trailers are optimized for pallets to make sure the cargo remains fixed in its place once loaded into the trailer. We cannot control the weather but overall, this combination is the safest bet against any unpleasant surprises and, as such, the most cost-effective way of transporting fresh seafood.”
As the only freight forwarders to offer ro/ro services in the North Atlantic region spanning from Iceland and the Faroe Islands to Denmark, Smyril Line Cargo is looking to utilize the unique opportunity presented through the Norröna’s capacity of 130 trailer units. The company offers transport services and solutions to and from this region by air and sea.
“We have many years of experience in temperature controlled transport,” Mr. Dahl Olesen said, “in particular by sea and road but also by rail and air. Several of our offices and overseas partners have been established with a view to offering reefer transport to food industry clients. This enables us to offer a comprehensive solution based on the particular needs and requirements of our customers, using the most time efficient and cost effective means of transport available, whether it’s by sea, land or air, or a combination. For example, when it comes to exports of fresh farmed salmon we offer to take the cargo by road from the fish processing plant to the Norröna, whereby it’s transported by sea to Denmark, and from there by road to any international airport in Europe for airfreight to North America, Asia or any other destination worldwide.”
For many people in the Faroe Islands, the renewed effort to promote a viable, Faroese-controlled overseas transport service is welcome, considering market developments in recent years, which have seen entities traditionally owned by the Faroese acquired by foreign ones. “Many consider this to be an issue of strategic importance,” Mr. Dahl Olesen said. “I think most of us agree that island nations dependent on exports and imports need to make sure they have reliable and well functioning freight links that they control themselves.”
Mr. Dahl Olesen is joined by his brother Halgir Dahl Olesen in the executive role at Smyril Line Cargo. Halgir’s background in the port agency business comes in handy as part of the company’s new marketing plan includes that segment, too.