The Bibby Stockholm barge has left Falmouth this morning on its journey for Dorset.

The barge is set to house 506 single male asylum seekers at Portland Port whilst they await decisions on their asylum claims.

At around 8.50am this morning, the barge was seen being towed out of Falmouth Harbour.

It is understood the barge will take approximately two days to be towed to Portland, where it will then remain for at least 18 months.

It has been docked in Falmouth since May, where it was undergoing refurbishment and general maintenance ahead of its arrival in Dorset.

When it arrives, it will undergo more inspections from local authorities and management company Corporate Travel Management (CTM) will begin familiarising themselves with the facilities ahead of the arrival of the first cohort of asylum seekers.

The first 50 asylum seekers will move in shortly afterwards.

A Home Office Spokesperson said: "We can confirm that Bibby Stockholm is now on its way to Portland Port. 

“Using vessels as alternative accommodation, like our European neighbours, are already doing, will be better value for British taxpayers and more manageable for communities than costly hotels.  

“We continue to work extremely closely with local councils and key partners to prepare for the arrival of asylum seekers later this month and minimise disruption for local residents including through substantial financial support.” 

A spokesperson for Portland Port said: “The Bibby Stockholm has departed from Falmouth and is due to arrive for berthing in Portland in the coming days.

“On arrival it will be connected to Portland Port’s fresh water and mains sewerage network as part of preparations for the arrival of the first group of asylum seekers in the coming weeks.”

The Bibby Stockholm's time in Falmouth has not been without controversy, with a protest carried out in the town centre by a pro-refugee group, and red paint thrown at the building of A&P Falmouth, which carried out the refit. 

The Home Office previously said it was committed to “making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer.”

It says the current asylum system is under extreme pressure and costing the country £3 billion a year and rising, including around £6 million a day on hotel accommodation.

"We continue to ensure the accommodation provided is safe, secure, leaves no one destitute and is appropriate for an individual’s needs," they said.