First 50 asylum seekers arrive at Bibby Stockholm barge

First 50 asylum seekers arrive at Bibby Stockholm barge

The Bibby Stockholm docked in Portland, Dorset.

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 07/08/2023

- 08:19

Updated: 07/08/2023

- 13:05

Firefighters have previously labelled the barge a 'potential death trap'

The Bibby Stockholm barge has welcomed its first 50 migrant arrivals on Monday, as the Government bids to extinguish rumours over fire risk.

When up and running, up to 500 men aged between 18 and 65 will be housed in the temporary floating accommodation while waiting on the outcome of their asylum application.

Rishi Sunak’s plan to place asylum seekers on the barge has been blighted by a series of setbacks.

First and foremost, firefighters have described the vessel docked off the Dorset coast as a “potential death trap” due to fire risk and overcrowding.

Rival protesters argue in Portland in Dorset after the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge arrived from dry dock in Falmouth, Cornwall.


Currently docked in Dorset’s Portland Port, the Bibby Stockholm barge once housed oil and gas workers, and has been occupied by asylum seekers in other countries in the past.

Where the barge was initially designed with a capacity of 222 people in mind, the government has renovated the boat to fit 500 people in six person cabins of dormitory bunk beds.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has confirmed plans to go ahead with the move despite the Fire Brigades Union raising concerns over the increased capacity.

The barge has been selected as an alternative to housing migrants in expensive hotels, with asylum seekers set to stay on board for three to six months.

A view of inside one of the bedrooms onboard the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset.


Ministers have pointed to the need to take drastic action to cut down on the £6million daily spend on housing asylum seekers in hotels.

More than 93m long and three storeys high, the Bibby Stockholm is the first vessel to be commandeered by Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, wrote in Telegraph: “Barges have been used by other countries, so why not us?

“Indeed the Bibby Stockholm that is causing the Left-wing activists so much alarm has been used to house migrants safely and securely by the German government before us.

A sign in a shop window outside Portland Port, Dorset, the home of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge.


Protesters outside the entrance to Portland Port in Dorset.


“We did not hear the howls of outrage from them then. This Government has made stopping the boats one of our five priorities because these crossings undermine the values of fairness our society is built on.

“It is an issue that matters hugely to people in this country.”

Richard Drax, the Tory MP for South Dorset, has complained that “none of the key questions have been answered” about the barge, which is in his constituency.


A view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset.


A view of the central courtyard on the Bibby Stockholm.


As a plan B to the Rwanda policy, the Government is also reportedly considering reviving plans to fly people who arrive by unauthorised means 4,000 miles to Ascension Island.

The news comes as part of the government’s so-called “small-boats week,” which began with increased fines for employers and landlords who employ people that have arrived in the UK illegally.

Civil penalties for employers have been tripled to a £45,000 maximum per worker for a first breach, and £60,000 for repeat offenders.

Likewise, landlords face fines going from £1,000 per occupier to £10,000, with repeat breaches going from £3,000 to £20,000.

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