First Geest ship docks in Portsmouth since company returned operations to the city
A Geest Line ship has docked in Portsmouth harbour for the first time since the company announced its return to the city.
The Luzon Strait arrived last week carrying 9,000 pallets of bananas from the Caribbean, following a nine-day journey.
Geest Line announced it was moving its operations back to Portsmouth in August after agreeing a five-year deal with Portsmouth City Council-owned Portico.
The firm had quit for Dover 18 months beforehand because of the use of bigger boats and ‘scheduling difficulties’.
But following a £15m investment of taxpayer cash into Portsmouth’s port, the freight operator’s fleet has returned.
The fruit from the first ship will be distributed across the country.
Managing director of Geest Line, Captain Peter Dixon, said: ‘It is great to have welcomed our first ship back into Portsmouth.
‘We have five vessels and they will be docking weekly each Friday after travelling 4,000 miles from the Caribbean.
‘We left Portsmouth because of scheduling difficulties when the company replaced its fleet with larger and newer ships, increasing our capacity by 40 per cent.
‘But changes at Portsmouth mean it can now handle our larger and modified service and it made sense to return.
‘We have a five year deal with Portsmouth and expect the move to have a positive effect on the wider local economy.’
Steve Williams, Portico’s operations director, said it was ‘great’ to see Geest return to Portsmouth.
He said: ‘We’ve worked with them closely to accommodate their requirements, and we’re looking forward to strengthening this partnership further over the course of the five-year agreement.
‘The return of Geest Line fits well with our future plans. We’ll continue to specialise in fresh produce backed by long-term agreements, whilst diversifying into other areas such as project cargo and break bulk to maximise the use of our facility.’
Council-owned MMD Shipping, since rebranded as Portico, axed 58 jobs in the wake of Geest leaving.