Falmouth Harbour (FH) has published its annual report for 2021, in which the harbour authority increased turnover from £2.57m to £2.75m but there was a small operating loss of £75,000, which Chief Executive Miles Carden puts down to “a tough year operationally due to Covid and offset losses from 2020.”

The 2021 report is probably the most informative, comprehensive and professionally illustrated document produced in the organisation’s 150 year history.

The once autocratic and sometimes esoteric body has become more open and transparent under the helm of Carrie Gilmore, chair of FH and CEO Miles Carden, as the commissioners engage in a “new openness drive as they strive for more regular constant engagement with the local community and customers.”

Carrie Gilmore hands over the chair to Mark Chanter in two months time after a highly successful term in office.

Carrie said: "It has been a huge privilege to undertake this role and as I step down as chair in December, and resume my role as a Commissioner, I am excited about the opportunities the future holds for us both as an organisation and for the economic and environmental sustainability of Falmouth Harbour.

"We will continue to work closely with partners, and collaborate on environmental and economic initiatives, and Mark Chanter, who will take over as chair in January 2023, will lead the Harbour Board in driving our good Blue Growth agenda."

Falmouth Harbour chair Carrie Gilmore

Falmouth Harbour chair Carrie Gilmore

Last year saw 33 cruiseship visits, which was a good result considering the effects of the pandemic. The ships are getting bigger with the average length increased from 183m in 2019 to 202m in 2021. Next year will see a bumper year, with 58 cruise ships stemmed for the port.

FH joined Cruise Britain to help support visitor promotion for the port. Along with A&P Falmouth in Cruise Europe there is now a two pronged agenda to attract these ships to Falmouth as a cruise destination.

A downturn in bunkering activity, Covid, along with other market forces, saw commercial shipping movements down from 1,029 in 2020 to 972. Since 2007 when shipping movements were at their highest of 3,717 the downward spiral has continued apace with levels now below 2001 figures.

Miles Carden said: “Falmouth Pilot Services continued with an unbroken service through 2021, another significant challenge as Covid continued to pose issues around team absences. My thanks to the team for their commitment to this and the vital work to procure a new 17m pilot boat to replace the LK Mitchell.

"The LK Mitchell is heading towards the end of her economic life, and it is time to replace her, so we have a resilient service for the Port and Harbour for next 10-20 years.

"We have commenced a procurement process for a new vessel, and we expect to contract with a builder in 2022 for delivery in 2024/25. We have driven significant improvement and change in procedures and risk management as we strive for better customer care, safety and cost control.”

FH was hit in 2010 by a High Court ruling which gave the Pilot’s National Pension Fund Trustee wide powers to seek deficit contributions from Competent Harbour Authorities engaged, or having been engaged, in employing or authorising pilots.

Badly holed below the waterline at the time by a massive deficit of more than £3 million, FH accountants confirmed that the latest valuation for the PNPF deficit now stands at £2.19 million.

The leisure arm of FH, Falmouth Haven, saw good growth in revenue due mainly to staycation holidays which in turn is reflected in the record amount of fuel sold from the Falmouth Haven fuel barge – diesel 211,601 litres petrol 59,777 litres,

One highlight of the year was the visit of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who toured the harbour in the pilot boat Arrow.

The volatility of the bunkering market has seen peaks and troughs in ship numbers calling for fuel although FH “expect less volatility as we move into 2022 and beyond and expect overall movements to recover to pre-Covid levels, and bunkering should stabilise.”

The past two years has seen an increase in super yacht visits both to Pendennis Shipyard and the harbour in general, which has provided good revenue for FH.

Miles Carden looks to the future with exciting developments in the pipeline: “As we look ahead through 2022 and 2023, we will be looking at delivering our joint-venture drone-testing project, 'Clear Skies', which is part of the UK Government’s Future Flight Challenge funded through Innovate UK.

"We secured £440,000 of funding for 2022-2024 to look at commercial testing and integration of drones into a harbour environment, looking at safety, efficiency and environmental initiatives.

"We are also looking at other new technology opportunities around Floating Offshore Wind, future fuels such as hydrogen, and autonomy.

"The Harbour Board approved the submission of a modernised Harbour Revision Order, which will be submitted in 2022 and consulted upon in 2023. This is a key step to allow us to manage your Harbour safely, effectively and efficiently in a rapidly changing world.

"There are many challenges with the economic situation, cost of living and affordability and inflationary cost pressures, but I am very optimistic that if we continue to provide excellent services, we have strong future prospects. I am still incredibly positive about the future of our amazing harbour.”

Pie charts showing income and expenditure Image: Falmouth Harbour

Pie charts showing income and expenditure Image: Falmouth Harbour


Commercial Harbour Dues: £350,000

Falmouth Harbour Moorings, Berths and Commercial: £775,000

Falmouth Harbour Fuel Services: £290,000

Pilotage incl. Boarding and Landing: £830,000

Falmouth Harbour Property Services: £285,000


Fuel barge cost and operations: £215,000

Team: £1,230,000

Depreciation and insurance: £172,000

Haven utilities and maintenance: £202,000