RMS sailing schedule runs beyond airport opening

The RMS St Helena gets under way, photographed from Munden's Road on St Helena

The RMS St Helena, departing the island in 2009

The new sailing schedule for the RMS St Helena includes two voyages beyond the planned opening of St Helena’s first airport.

And they may not be the ship’s last trips to the island, according to a statement issued after executive councillors approved the schedule.

The ship is also set to drop anchor in James Bay on the day before the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s arrival on the island on 15 October 1815.

A ten-day spell in dry dock has been booked for August 2015, and a Christmas voyage to Cape Town is scheduled for the end of the year.

The ship is set to leave Cape Town on its last scheduled voyage, number 241, on 25 March 2016, in the month after the projected opening of the airport.

It appears that there might be further voyages beyond that date, though – including to Tristan da Cunha. Previous trips to St Helena’s sister island have sold out very quickly.

A press release said: “A question had been raised about the possibility of a voyage to Tristan, but the expected demand on berths as a result of airport construction and economic development ruled this out.

“The schedule post airport opening has yet to be confirmed and possible voyages such as this will be considered nearer the time.”

Executive councillors approved the schedule after consultation with various groups on the island.

The last listed voyage, number 241, sees the ship depart Ascension on 3 April 2016, leaving James Bay four days later. It ends in Cape Town on 12 April.

The ship entered service in 1990 after being built by Hall, Russell & Company in Scotland.

Its capacity was extended in 2012 with the addition of 24 extra cabin berths, giving space for 152 passengers.

The ship broke down while heading south from the UK in 1999 and had to put into the French port of Brest for repairs, leaving passengers stranded – including one family who had been heading to the island for a wedding.

The incident intensified the battle to secure an airport for the island, which was left without deliveries of supplies.

  • Executive councillors also approved a “small” rise in passenger and freight tariffs, in line with inflation and a commitment to reduce subsidies.

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