#FrenchFerry - The first sailing in 2017 of Epsilon on the Ireland-France route of Dublin-Cherbourg operated by Irish Ferries took place yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Under overcast skies yet flat calm seas, Epsilon departed Dublin Bay in mid-afternoon where the only vessel at anchorage was asphalt/bitumen tanker Iver Ability. The 106m ship is at the centre of cargo ‘issues’ following an investigation of a fire due to a reaction on board during tranport of bitumen into Dublin Port last summer and has since remained at anchor.
The New Year marks as the fifth year of the chartered Italia flagged Epsilon under Irish Ferries operations but based on ‘economy’ class service on the French route. Three months into service the prefix of the ropax name, Cartour Epsilon was dropped. This was to remove the connection with previous operator, Caronte & Tourist SPA, Italy from where she served routes to Sicily.
At the time of posting Epsilon is docked in Cherbourg having completed the 17 hour 30 minute crossing from Dublin Port with an arrival this morning. As of this afternoon in the Normandy port is where rival Stena Line’s ropax, Stena Horizon departed and is bound for Rosslare tomorrow morning. Also in port is Brittany Ferries Barfleur one of several in the fleet serving on the English Channel in this context Cherbourg-Poole.
In addition the ropax 500 passenger/500 car capacity Epsilon serves during the week Dublin-Holyhead crossings and is due to dock in Dublin tomorrow morning before resuming such duties. Epsilon supports Walsh route regulars the fastcraft Jonathan Swift and flagship Ulysses currently off service, see report on Cammell Laird.
Taking the roster of Ulysses is routine Rosslare-Pembroke ferry Isle of Inishmore which in turn has been replaced on the southern corridor by Oscar Wilde. The cruiseferry during the winter does not operate out of Rosslare routes to France but is scheduled to resume service at the start of March, albeit only serving Cherbourg. The seasonal-only shorter route to Roscoff resuming in May.
Epsilon (E) is the name given to the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet which is apt given the ropax is also the firth vessel to join the current Irish Ferries fleet serving the UK and France. The flagship Ulysses resembles the appearance of a €144m cruiseferry on order to Flensburger Schiffbau (FSG) scheduled for delivery in May 2018. Emissions 'scrubber' technology is not included in the contract price.
The 50,000 gross tonnage cruiseferry will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew. The newbuild will have 435 cabins, 2,800 lane metres of freight vehicle space with room for 165 freight vehicles and an additional dedicated car deck with capacity for 300 passenger cars.
According to Irish Continental Group (ICG), parent company of Irish Ferries, the cruiseferry will be designed to best meet the operational seasonality of their business. ICG commented that it is likely that the new cruiseferry will be introduced on routes served by Epsilon.