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Welcome to the St Helena Shipping Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page. This page is intended to provide answers to common queries regarding the MV Helena and the St Helena Shipping service operated by AW Ship Management Ltd. If you have a query that is not answered below, please get in touch.

How was the MV Helena chosen for the service?

AW Ship Management tendered for the contract to provide a marine cargo service to St Helena. The tender from St Helena Government specified that the ship used to operate the service should be capable of berthing at the new Rupert’s Bay jetty and provided a maximum size specification. The ship was not to exceed the following:

  • Laden Draft: 5.5m
  • Overall Length: 105m
  • Beam: 17m
  • Dead Weight: 6,400 MT
  • Displacement: 7,500 MT

Following the award of the contract, AW Ship Management purchased the MV Helena in May 2016 to meet the above requirements and provide maximum cargo capacity for the Island, while still being able to use the Rupert’s Bay wharf.

Has the ship been modified?

As above, the MV Helena was purchased by AW Ship Management in response to the Island’s requirement and the restrictions of the Rupert’s Bay wharf. As such, no significant modifications were required. In order to carry a small number of passengers, AWSM have installed a higher capacity life boat and additional life saving equipment. See below for details.

How much cargo can the MV Helena carry? How does this compare to the RMS St Helena?

A full specification of the MV Helena is provided in the about us section of the website. The MV Helena can carry approximately 4,924t of cargo or 218 20-foot standard containers. Usually, cargo will be a mixture of containers and loose, “break bulk” cargo.

By way of a comparison, the RMS St Helena’s total cargo capacity was approximately 1,600t of cargo or 92 20-foot standard containers.

Can the MV Helena land cargo to the Rupert’s Bay wharf?

At present, the MV Helena is unable to land most cargo to the Rupert’s Bay wharf. Certification of Rupert’s Bay as a port terminal is still ongoing and as a result, only a limited type of cargo (vehicles and tank containers) can be landed ashore. All remaining containers will be discharged to barge and shipped round to the Jamestown wharf. Responsibility for the barging operations are outside of AW Ship Management’s contract and the costs are met by SHG.

Do AW Ship Management use the MV Helena for other customers? Will the ship be diverted to other destinations?

No. The MV Helena was purchased in response to the Island’s requirement for a dedicated marine cargo service and will therefore operate to a published schedule to St Helena and Ascension Islands only. Any additional work will only be considered if it fits in with the published schedule and is of benefit to the Island.

Will the number of calls to St Helena be increased?

The St Helena Shipping service is not subsidised by either the St Helena or UK Governments. As such, the service must stand on its own merits and the number of calls is at present the maximum that can be supported by the amount of cargo moving to the Island. However, if regular cargo volumes are seen to increase, there are several options to increase the number of calls, and AWSM would be pleased to be able to action these should the opportunity arise.

Will the MV Helena carry animals?

Shipments of animals to St Helena from South Africa or animals that have transited through South Africa are currently subject to some restrictions. However, AWSM carry pets from Cape Town, as well as those which will arrive into St Helena via Ascension Island. Using AWSM’s experience of handling pets on board the FIRS vessels, a dedicated 20-foot container has been modified to carry three dogs or cats. The container has access to natural light and is air conditioned. AWSM have worked closely with the Ascension and St Helena Veterinary Officers to ensure that the container and AWSM’s handling procedures are correct. Animal shipments, including approved shipments of commercial animals from South Africa will be kept under review and AWSM are in contact with the Senior Veterinary Officer on St Helena in this regard.