Ship fire ends Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry route

Ferry operator DFDS has scrapped the Rosyth to Zeebrugge freight route after a fire broke out on its ship, Finlandia Seaways.

The blaze, which occurred last Monday (April 16), injured a crew member who had to be airlifted to hospital, where he is being treated for smoke inhalation.

The ship was towed to Immingham where an inspection revealed substantial damage to the ship’s engine room, said Kell Robdrup, senior vice-president of North Sea routes.

“We estimate it will be out of service for several months for repairs. Furthermore, our search for a replacement vessel was fruitless and revealed that there are no suitable ships available,” he added.

“Unfortunately, this will bring about further losses on the route, and it means that we have lost all hope of being able to turn around the route’s loss-making situation.

DFDS had “no alternative but to close the route” he announced, because the company would undoubtedly lose clients forced to seek alternative transport solutions.

Lesley laird MP said the news would be “devastating” for the Fife and wider Scottish economy.

She added: “The route has been beset with difficulties and challenges from the outset, a history I’m well aware of because I campaigned previously to have the route re-instated.

“Given DFDS has announced its intention to withdraw, time is of the essence.

“I would urge the Scottish Government and Humza Yousaf to proactively identify a new operator and explore the option, which has been called for, of making the route more financially viable by creating a mixed freight/passenger service.”

Mr Robdrup said the company was “extremely sorry” to customers and partners in Scotland and Belgium.

“In cooperation with the Scottish Government and the port, we have tried everything in our power to save the route,” he said.

“This included going from a combined passenger and cargo ship to a freight ship, reducing costs by enabling double stacking of containers and reducing fuel costs by installing a scrubber to remove sulphur from the exhaust gas instead of using expensive, low-sulphur fuel.

“However, the route continued to make losses. And with the new situation with the ship out of service for months, the market, the customers and the financial situation will be negatively affected, and make a turnaround and a reopening unrealistic,” he added.

DFDS has not made any decisions regarding the deployment of Finlandia Seaways when she returns to sea.

Pic: Lars Plougmann