On Her Majesty’s (not so) Secret Service

September 10, 2014  |   News



As a company specialising in express or special deliveries, we continually discuss the slightly ‘off the wall’ enquiries we receive and execute.

A short while ago Stuart Green, our export manager for air & courier received a call from our client requesting an immediate collection of spare parts from a ro-ro (roll on/roll off) vessel in Southampton Port, for delivery on-board another vessel in Algeciras. Because of the absolute urgency and restriction of cargo services for the timescale required, the only option was to use a hand carry service – where we physically book and air ticket and send an employee with the freight as ‘baggage’.

The usual service is to hand over the package at destination to a port agent or to hand deliver to the vessel in port. In this case Algeciras. When Stuart asked “when will the vessel be arriving in port”, the answer took us all by surprise; “Oh no, the vessel won’t be calling into port, it’ll be coming through the Gibraltar Straight and will just be slowing down… you’ll need to arrange a barge to hand over the spares on the open ocean!”

Well, we do enjoy a challenge!

Cue the James Bond theme tune emanating from Russell’s computer and a hint of sarcasm as Stuart is informed he must wear a black tuxedo for the operation!

Boarding the tug

Boarding the tug

Approaching the vessel

Approaching the vessel

Impressive vessel

Impressive vessel

Package to hand over

Package for hand over

Opening the hatch

Opening the hatch

Successful delivery

Successful hand over at sea


We collected the package from a vessel in Southampton Port the following morning at 0800 hrs, and Stuart was promptly despatched to London to catch an early afternoon flight to Malaga.

Our agents in Algeciras collected him from the airport and dropped to his hotel, ready for the pre-arranged tug to take him out to sea early the following morning to meet the vessel. After a rather bumpy ride out into the strait of Gibraltar, the impressive looking Wallenius Wilhelmson MV Tomar opened its side hatch and the package was handed over to the captain. Retrieving the signed paperwork wasn’t the easiest proof of delivery we’ve managed to secure, though secure we did. Everyone concerned was delighted with the operation; not least the captain who barely had to adjust course or speed to receive the important spares and was allowed to continue to destination on eco speed.

A shipment such as this represents not only the vastly different operational challenges that we handle, but confirms that our flexibility and resourcefulness is second to none. It also kept us firmly on our toes!

The MV Tomar is the seventh vessel in a series of ten built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nagasaki, Japan and has a gross tonnage of 61328 t and has a capacity of 6,542 car units.

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