Last year, there was much mirth when it was revealed that transport minister, Chris Grayling, had awarded a £14m contract for extra ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend in the case of no deal to ‘Seaborne Freight’ – a company which had no ships, and no record of chartering them.
Suspicions that Seaborne might not be the most reliable continued to grow when the company was shown to have no trading history and appeared to have borrowed its website’s terms & conditions from a takeaway company.
Now it appears that scepticism of Seaborne might have been entirely justified. Following reports in the Telegraph, the Department for Transport confirmed today that it has now cancelled the contract with the company, after Seaborne Freight’s backer, Arklow Shipping, stepped back from the deal.
The cancellation is something of an embarrassment for the transport secretary and the department. Grayling has continued to back the company despite widespread criticism of the deal, and only two days ago was singing Seaborne’s praises in a written statement to parliament, saying that:
‘Seaborne Freight has been preparing for some time to operate services on this route. The management team of Seaborne has extensive experience in the shipping and maritime sector, including the operation of ferry services on cross-channel routes, freight brokerage, port management and vessel chartering.’
After this fiasco, Mr S has to wonder: will Grayling will be the captain that goes down with no ships?