New joint venture wins contract to run Military Port

Solent Gateway Ltd, a new joint venture between transport specialists  David MacBrayne Ltd (DML) and global logistics firm GBA (Holdings) Ltd, has won a Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract to run one of the UK's busiest military ports.

Marchwood Military Port, a 225 acre facility on Southampton Water, has been used for the movement of troops and equipment since 1943 and is also extensively used as a berth by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in support of the Royal Navy.

The MoD has awarded Solent Gateway a 35 year concession to manage the military movements through the port.

Scotland-based David MacBrayne has been operating ferry and port facilities the length and breadth of the Clyde and Hebrides for the past 160 years and currently manages operations at 24 ports, harbours and slipways as CalMac Ferries. GBA (Holdings) Ltd, with its headquarters in Grimsby, is a leading end-to-end logistics company, established some 28 years ago providing services to the automotive, shipping and renewables industry. It currently operates from 14 ports in the UK handling over 1.7 million vehicles per annum. It also has operations in Turkey and India.

The Solent Gateway joint venture will play to the combined strengths of both companies said David MacBrayne's chief executive, Martin Dorchester:

"We are delighted with this news which reinforces David MacBrayne's credentials as an internationally recognised operation able to compete successfully in the global market place.

"It is an ideal extension of our current skills and experience of running ports across the west coast. While our core service will be managing a port that will continue to meet the military's requirements, we look forward to working with GBA to maximise the commercial potential of Marchwood."

The company is confident that there is potential for job creation at Marchwood and plans to look at ways of maximising the unused areas of the site.

"Marchwood presents significant opportunities for additional commercial development. We are committed to safeguarding existing jobs on the site and over time, and with full community consultation create more jobs as our plans for the site develop. Solent Gateway wants to become an important community partner in the area," added Mr Dorchester.

GBA's managing director, Captain Sam Judah MBE, said, "We are delighted to be awarded this prestigious contract to run the Port of Marchwood. Its location and infrastructure are second to none and we will be using all our expertise and experience to ensure that existing services are delivered to the highest standard to maintain defence capabilities. We furthermore look forward to attracting complementary business to grow the port with opportunity to create additional employment in the area to boost both the local and national economy."

"We are extremely pleased to be working with our joint venture partners DML and we believe that our individual strengths will complement each other well in achieving greater success for the Port of Marchwood."

Solent Gateway Ltd will start operating Marchwood from April 2016.

The contract win was welcomed by Scottish Government Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay MSP.

"I congratulate David MacBrayne Limited, as part of Solent Gateway Ltd, on winning this contract," he said. "This is an excellent example of a Scottish company with a strong public service ethos succeeding in a competitive marketplace.

"Winning a contract of this type is testament to the company's expertise, reputation and hard work, and Scottish Ministers are particularly pleased to see DML extend its public service role.

"Although DML's core market is and will remain Scotland, with focus retained on serving our island communities, we are supportive of the company's efforts to explore opportunities which align with Ministerial expectations and its business expertise.

"I wish DML and GBA Holdings every success with this venture."



  1. For more information about Solent Gateway Ltd or Marchwood Military Port contact