Ferries from Sheerness

Sheerness is a small seaside town on the Isle of Sheppey, in north Kent. As a natural deepwater port near the mouth of the Thames Estuary, it is well-situated for marine transport. In the past, passenger ferries from Sheerness have indeed provided transportation to and from Europe. Today, it serves as a major cargo shipping port.

History of Ferries from Sheerness

One of the earliest ferry services from Sheerness started in 1875. The Dutch-owned Zeeland Steamship Company began operating a daily service to transport mail and passengers between Sheerness and Vlissingen, in the Netherlands. Shortly after opening, the ferry changed ports to Queenborough, just across the Medway River from Sheerness. In 1974, the Olau Line reinitiated passenger ferry services between Sheerness and Vlissingen. This route remained in operation until 1994, when it closed due to insufficient traffic. There have been no ferry services from Sheerness since.

Sheerness Ferry Scandal

In 2006, entrepreneur John Paul Airs proposed a plan to implement a high-speed passenger ferry service from Sheerness, linking it to France, Spain, and Norway. This was due to be up and running by the summer of 2008. In addition to facilitating travel to Europe, one of the goals was to provide an alternate transport route for tourists travelling to the London 2012 Olympics. It was not to be. In April 2008, a BBC Inside Out investigation reported that to date, none of the ferry boats ordered had been fully paid for. Airs had apparently defrauded investors of millions of pounds, using fake bank bonds as collateral. As of June 2011, there are still no passenger ferries out of Sheerness; the nearest ports with this service are at Ramsgate or Dover.

Freight Ferries from Sheerness

Currently, the only ferries to and from Sheerness are cargo ships. With easy access to London, it serves as one of the UK’s most important shipping ports, particularly for imports of fruits and vegetables. In addition to fresh produce, it also has specialized facilities for handling shipments of lumber and paper products, new vehicles, steel, and construction materials.

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