#NewBuilds – A pair of newbuild ferries for Northern Ireland waters, one destined for an island route, the other an estuary link, are both undergoing trails prior to entering service, writes Jehan Ashmore.
A month ago today, Strangford 2 arrived onto Strangford Lough. The new car-ferry is to serve the estuary crossing linking Strangford and Portaferry. The towns are separated by strong tidal waters known as the ‘Narrows’.
Responding to Afloat.ie, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said “the Strangford 2 is currently being used for crew training and familiarisation which will continue for several weeks.”
Strangford 2 has a 28 vehicle/260 passenger capacity and was built by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead on Merseyside. As previously reported, the newbuild is to enter service this autumn, joining the 2001 built Portaferry 2.
The second newbuild, Spirit of Rathlin with a 6 vehicle /140 passenger configuration was built by Arklow Marine Services for the Ballycastle-Rathlin Island route. AMS having built Rathlin Express which is operated by the Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd.
As to the operator of the new Co. Antrim car-ferry, the Dfi commented, “the Department is finalising the procurement process and will hope to announce a preferred bidder shortly.”
In late September Spirit of Rathlin was launched into the River Avoca having been lowered by floating heavy-lift crane, Lara 1 which had sailed from Liverpool.
Afloat has tracked the estuary-bound car-ferry which in recent days was on sea-trials out as far as the Arklow Bank off the Co .Wicklow coast.