Eastern Caribbean shipping firm Geest Line is relocating its south of England cargo handling to Dover following fleet expansion.
The company’s move from Portsmouth has been prompted by the need to accommodate revised scheduling times involving the weekend discharge of cargoes.
It comes as Geest replaces its fleet of four charter vessels with five larger and newer ships, increasing capacity by over 40%.
From this month, two port calls in Colombia have been added for fruit loading while a new stop at Flushing in The Netherlands will help with northern European freight and imports and exports.
Captain Peter Dixon, Managing Director of Geest Line, which is headquartered in Fareham, south Hampshire, said: “Our new logistics require a switch of days for handling eastbound arrivals in England from Sunday to Friday.
“This would have been the first scheduling change impacting Portsmouth in our 16 years at the port.
“The port operator has however advised that their teams are regrettably unable to handle our revised schedule so we have had no choice but to, reluctantly, relocate.
“We would like to thank all the stevedores, other port operatives, hauliers and supply chain contacts for their hard work over the years we have been at Portsmouth.
“At the same time, we look forward to working through Dover, which has an exciting port development due to open in spring 2019 that should make it an ideal partner for the Geest Line operations as well as being able to handle our requirements immediately.
“We did investigate the port of Southampton which was our base before Portsmouth but it does not have sufficient cargo-handling space for our particular needs.”
Geest Line’s 32 staff in Fareham are unaffected by the change of port, Captain Dixon stressed.
The company has been an exclusively Europe-to-Caribbean freight operator for more than 50 years, with weekly westbound sailings from the south of England and Le Havre in France.
Its fleet handles all kinds of general cargo from tiny perishables to large project machinery, both container and breakbulk, returning from the Caribbean with fruit, mainly bananas, for the UK and European markets.
As well as its commercial operations, Geest Line provides free-of-charge aid shipments during natural disasters in the Caribbean, most recently when Hurricane Maria struck Dominica in November 2017.