P&O has discontinued the daily freight ferry crossing between Larne and Troon.
The last sailing on the four-and-a-half-hour route, which comprised a single return crossing each day, took place last week. The company has said that no more than three jobs are at risk on the Troon side and none in Larne.
P&O claimed its hand was forced by the need for repair work on the Norcape ferry, which was the only vessel assigned to the route. However, the operator has also said that all the Troon business is being absorbed by the Larne-Cairnryan service without the need for additional sailings, which is indicative of a rationalisation exercise.
Asked to comment on a claim that the Japanese-built Norcape, which is 32 years old, is to be scrapped, a P&O spokesman said: “The Norcape is currently undergoing repairs, but will not be returning to the route.”
He added that Troon, on the Firth of Clyde, has a “very shallow harbour” and the 150-metre Norcape was one of a small number of shallowed-keeled ferries that could be accommodated there.
“Shallow-keeled vessels are hard to come by and very expensive,” he said.
The end of the Troon ferry comes two years after Stena pulled the plug on its freight run between Larne and Fleetwood. After the last ferry sailed on Christmas Eve, 2010, the Larne Times reported that Stena had entered into negotiations with trade unions over 141 staff employed on three ferries. Only one lived in Larne, but there were fears for locally for the employment prospects of people employed on the dock-side.