Brittany Ferries announced Monday that the UK government has given approval for armed French sea marshals to provide security aboard vessels on cross-Channel routes.
French law enforcement units have conducted at-sea boardings on Brittany's French-flagged ropax ferries since August, but this marks the first time that they will be permitted to remain on board in UK territorial waters.
“[Security] personnel may now get on at one port and travel with the ship and its passengers for the duration of the journey, rather than having to be helicoptered onto and off the ship in international waters," said a Brittany Ferries spokesperson.
The patrols are a response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice. Sadly, the announcement of the ferry security agreement came on the day of the Christmas market attack in Berlin, a potent reminder of the continuing threat.
Mike Bevens, group commercial director at Brittany Ferries, reacted positively to the UK government’s decision. "We are delighted that agreement has been reached. Point-to-point sea marshaling is a welcome step forward and will be a further reassurance to our passengers."
The announcement did not cover similar routes operated by DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries. Brittany Ferries' vessels fly the French flag, facilitating the deployment of French forces on board; DFDS and P&O's vessels are registered in the UK and elsewhere.
Brittany Ferries orders new LNG-fueled vessel
Separately, on Tuesday, Brittany Ferries announced a letter of intent for the construction of an LNG-fueled, 1700-passenger ropax for its Portsmouth-Caen route.
“The signing of this letter of intent with the Flensburger shipyard is a concrete step towards the construction of a new generation of Brittany Ferries ships,” said Christophe Mathieu, Brittany’s CEO. “Despite Brexit, we remain confident in our ability to continue to grow and modernise our route network, serving both tourism and trade in the regions of western Europe."