The States of Guernsey has jointly purchased a new ferry with Condor - and loaned the company £26m - to “prevent a potential emergency occurring”.
The ferry firm announced that it was buying a second roll-on, roll-off ferry on 8 March to improve capacity and connectivity between the islands, and even got as far as announcing the vessel’s name on 17 March, the Islander.
But it's now emerged that Guernsey had to convene its emergency committee - known as the Civil Contingencies Authority - on 23 and 27 March to keep the plan afloat.
A statement issued early yesterday evening said that the States of Guernsey and Condor were jointly investing £3m each in securing the 125m-long MV Straitsman from New Zealand - despite having previously stated that £5m would be coming from the taxpayer-backed Guernsey Investment Fund.
The island's Chief Minister and head of the CCA, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, did not provide details of the exact issue, but said the CCA had to "consider a critical matter that was time-sensitive, and therefore required the use of the CCA's powers to ensure appropriate action was taken promptly to secure the purchase of the additional vessel recently announced by Condor, in order to mitigate potential critical risks to our supply chain."
"This is a commercially sensitive situation and we must respect that for all parties involved. However, the CCA's interest is in safeguarding critical supply lines for the long term benefit of the Bailiwick.
"We concluded that the purchase of this vessel at this time is essential and, after taking legal advice, satisfies the need to act to prevent a potential emergency occurring."
Pictured: Guernsey's Chief Minister and head of the CCA, Deputy Peter Ferbrache.
The CCA then gave a direction to the island's Policy and Resources (P&R) Committee - which holds the island's purse strings - to ensure the vessel was purchased.
"As a result of the direction from the CCA, the committee decided to proceed urgently with a joint venture arrangement with Condor which will be self-financing, producing an investment return which will benefit Guernsey's public finances," Deputy Mark Helyar, Vice President of P&R, explained.
"The committee believes that the arrangements will help to enhance services and secure the Bailiwick's vital sea links for at least the next decade."
Jersey was not involved in any discussions to purchase a vessel for Condor, Deputy Ferbrache said that there had been "numerous recent discussions with Jersey Ministers" over a new operating agreement.
Pictured: "I am confident that we can meet our shared Channel Island objectives in any new arrangement," Jersey's Economic Development Minister said.
Contacted by Express for comment, Jersey's Economic Development Minister, Deputy Kirsten Morel, said: "I remain committed to working with our States of Guernsey counterparts as we have shared objectives to secure high-quality, resilient sea connectivity.
"Both islands depend upon - and benefit hugely from - our sea links and I am confident that we can meet our shared Channel Island objectives in any new arrangement. This vessel acquisition does not change our outlook or approach."
Condor CEO John Napton said the joint-venture with Guernsey was "very good news for the Islands as it supports the three strands of the local economies – lifeline freight, connectivity for Islanders and inbound tourism – and is an important step in showing our long-term commitment to improving sea links.
"In addition, through this agreement the States will receive a financial return from us over the next decade, after which Islander will become fully co-owned by the joint venture."
Pictured: Lee Mauger took both photos of the newly branded Condor Islander at Wellington Harbour in New Zealand on Tuesday evening (NZ time).
Mr Napton said said Condor crew members were in Wellington to oversee the work and to prepare the vessel for relocation, which will take place over the course of seven weeks.
"The plan is to leave later this month and her journey will take around seven weeks via the Panama Canal and Atlantic Ocean. She will arrive in early Summer and then be placed in dry dock for maintenance and rebranding," he said.
"Once this has been completed, the ship will undergo berthing trials in Portsmouth, Jersey, Guernsey and Saint Malo prior to entering service later this year."
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