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In the early evening of Saturday, 2nd October, Belfast Coastguard put out a MAYDAY in response to a 20ft yacht with four people on board reportedly taking on water and without power, a mile north of Corsewall Point, at the mouth of Loch Ryan on the southwest coast of Scotland.

The Stena Superfast VIII, the ro-ro/passenger ferry between Belfast and Cairnryan on Loch Ryan, passed and responded. They launched their fast rescue craft and stood by the vessel until the arrival of Portpatrick and Stranraer RNLI lifeboats. The craft was assisted to Stranraer marina by the lifeboats.

Belfast Coastguard, with Headquarters in Bangor on Belfast Lough, coordinates Search and Rescue for Northern Ireland, Southwest Scotland and North West England. They commented, "We are very grateful for the swift and professional response from Superfast VIII and at no time was the ferry or its passengers or crew in any danger".

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Duty-free shopping is making a big impact as it proves popular with passengers once again on routes between Ireland and Wales. Early sales figures show the huge potential it has to help the travel sector bounce back after the pandemic. Nowhere has the boost from duty free become more apparent than at Swedish ferry company Stena Line, where spend per passenger in its onboard shops saw a fourfold increase in August, on routes where passengers can now enjoy tax-free shopping.

With duty-free shopping back onboard it has meant lucky passengers can now access large discounts of up to 50% off on a wide range of items such as whiskeys, vodkas, gins, wines, beers and champagnes. With famous brands like Jameson, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks, Budweiser, and Bollinger, all available at a fraction of onshore prices.

The removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions by Ireland meant that August was the first month where full tourist and non-essential travel with Britain was permitted. The response was instant, with high demand for sailings from people desperate to travel after so long in lockdown and keen to make the most of what was left of summer. The demand for duty-free was equally high, resulting in the spend per passenger in Stena Line’s onboard shops more than quadrupling compared to pre-pandemic levels in August 2019.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea Trade Director commented: “Like most travel businesses we have experienced a very difficult time over the last 18 months, but now as our passengers start to return in large numbers, we are delighted to be in a position to offer them the added benefit of duty-free shopping on our ships for the first time in over 20 years. Our expanded onboard shops now offer a great range of items from spirits to jewellery, fragrances to electrics, some at over 50% cheaper than high street prices.”

Duty-free shopping is now available to any passengers on Stena Line’s services between Holyhead – Dublin and Fishguard – Rosslare, where the company’s large, modern vessels have newly refitted and expanded shops.

The company has also reintroduced its famous low-cost duty-free return trips, known as ‘non-landers’, where people take return trips across the Irish Sea, without leaving the ferry, just to access the bargains now on offer. Duty-free return fares are only £20.

Published in Stena Line
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Continuing the strengthening and expansion of its services in the Baltic Sea, Swedish ferry company Stena Line is deploying two new large and modern ferries on the route between Ventspils in Latvia and Nynäshamn in Sweden this year. The first of the two vessels, Stena Scandica, arrived in the port of Nynäshamn this morning when it completed its overnight maiden voyage from Ventspils. The vessel adds another 70% more cabins and 30% more freight capacity compared to the existing vessels and offers an attractive alternative way to travel on the Baltic Sea.

“We have been carrying passengers and freight in the Baltic Sea region for almost ten years. During this period, we have experienced a strong yearly growth. Furthermore, we have more than doubled our operations from one vessel and 10 departures per week in 2012 up to two vessels and 24 departures per week for passengers and freight in 2021. Our expansion is driven by an increased demand for sea travel and the requirement for additional freight capacity from our customers on the Baltic Sea. We are now strengthening our position and customer offer further with two new modern and bigger vessels that will add extra 30 % freight capacity and provide an attractive onboard experience on both our routes to and from Latvia during 2021,” says Johan Edelman, Trade Director Baltic Sea North.

Stena Scandica is 222m long and has a capacity of 200 cabins, 970 passengers and 2,875 freight lane meters, plus an extra car deck – adding another 30% freight capacity and 70% more cabins on the route. The vessel is fitted with several sustainable features and fuel efficiency improvements, such as hybrid scrubbers, ballast water cleaning systems, twisted leading edge rudder and others to offer a more sustainable transportation across the Baltic Sea. The larger tonnage also means a lower emission per transported unit.​ The interior includes new cabin categories, spacious shop with great deals and well-known brand products, lounge areas and several dining facilities, as well as a sundeck.

“We see RoPax as our key competitive advantage and an integral part of our success story, therefore, we will continue to combine freight and passengers. These two new vessels represent a fantastic addition to the fleet for our customers, and it is just a first step towards our ambitious plan to double the number of passengers on the Baltic Sea route in 3 years,” highlights Johan Edelman.

Ventspils – Nynäshamn is the shortest route between the Baltics and Scandinavia. When Stena Scandica and Stena Baltica take over the route Ventspils – Nynäshamn and they will replace the Stena Livia and Stena Flavia, which will then be redeployed on the route Liepāja – Travemünde.

Published in Stena Line
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In 2015 Stena Line made history by converting one of the largest RoPax ferries in the world, the 240-metre Stena Germanica, to become the world’s first methanol powered ferry. Now the Swedish ferry company has achieved another world first, by powering Stena Germanica with methanol recycled from residual steel gases.

This week Stena Line took the next step on their sustainable journey towards achieving zero carbon when the Stena Germanica travelled from Sweden to Germany powered by recycled methanol. The new fuel dubbed ‘Blue Methanol’, is recycled from residual steel gases, a by-product of the steel production industry and helps reduce the ferry’s reliance on diesel, thus lowering the vessel’s carbon emissions further.

By making Stena Germanica blue the new fuels helps the vessel become greener! This week’s journey is another milestone in this ground-breaking project, which launched in 2015 when the dual-fuel system onboard Stena Germanica was converted to allow the vessel to run on both methanol and diesel fuel. It is the world’s first methanol powered RoPax (passenger and freight) ferry, which operates on the Gothenburg – Kiel route.

Stena Line developed it with several partners, including Methanex, Wärtsilä and EU's Motorways of the Seas project. The conversion project was the first of its kind in the world and was so unique that it established methanol as a marine fuel for the first time ever.

"It is exciting to be part of our sustainable journey and try out another new sustainable fuel. I can confirm that we sailed with the new fuel from Gothenburg to Kiel on June 22 and it worked very well,” says Peter Holm, Chief Engineer Stena Germanica.

While methanol is a fossil fuel, it is much cleaner than traditional marine fuel. Sulphur and particulates are reduced by 90% and nitrogen by 60%. The steel industry and the maritime sector are two of the world’s biggest emitters of CO2, accounting for 6-8% and 2.5% of all CO2 emissions respectively. The FReSMe project, funded by H2020 EU program, aims to demonstrate the whole process that enables the CO2 captured from the steel industry to produce methanol fuel that will be used as fuel in the ship transportation sector.

“This collaboration between the steel and the maritime sectors is the first of its kind and demonstrates that by working together companies from different backgrounds can greatly improve their effect on the climate. For Stena Line this is another successful proof of concept for our methanol conversion ferry and a further bridge towards our aim of fossil free shipping,” says Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability Stena Line Group.

Published in Stena Line
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Despite the ongoing pandemic, ferry company Stena Line has achieved another important milestone in its major new fleet investment programme with the ‘launching’ ceremony of the first new extended E-Flexer vessel in Weihai, China. The vessel was ordered in 2018 and the delivery is expected in 2022. For now, the name of the new vessel and the route on which it will operate are being kept a closely guarded secret by Stena Line.

Stena Line is well underway in modernising its large European fleet of ferries and has not let the ongoing pandemic affect these ambitious plans. The new vessel that took to the water for the first time on 24 May is the fourth out of five new next-generation E-Flexer vessels that are designed and built in collaboration with the sister company Stena RoRo at the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard in China. The vessels are among the world's most modern and efficient RoPax vessels. The three first vessels have already started to operate on the Irish Sea during 2020 and 2021.

”The E-Flexer vessels represent an important part of our sustainable growth journey for the future and we look forward to welcoming two more vessels to our fleet next year. The first three vessels are making waves with our appreciative customers across the Irish Sea and both their flexibility and efficiency has already made them great assets for the company during the pandemic and following Brexit” says Niclas Mårtensson, Managing Director of Stena Line.

”Despite the challenges connected to the pandemic we have been able to deliver our new buildings in time and thereby enabling Stena Line to perform their fleet renewal program as planned, says Per Westling, Managing Director of Stena RoRo.

The fourth and the fifth vessel will be 240 meters long with a load capacity of 3,600 length meters, compared to the first three which are 214 meters long and have a load capacity of 3,100 length meters. In total, the larger vessels also get 50 % more cabins and beds, 30 % increased passenger capacity and an additional 15% cargo capacity. The name of the new vessel and the locations where it will operate will be announced later this year.

Among the distinguishing features are:

  • Efficient loading and unloading with drive-through lanes on the two levels.
  • Up to 30 % more energy efficient than existing vessels in the fleet, thanks to optimum design of the hulls, propellers, bulbs and rudders.
  • All five vessels are delivered gas-ready, to allow conversion to methanol or LNG fuel.
  • The two longer vessels will be equipped to use shore power during port calls to reduce emissions. The electricity connection also enables a conversion to battery hybrid in the future.
  • Stena Lines’ Scandinavian heritage is clearly visible on the interior and the design is spacious and light, with amazing panoramic views.
Published in Stena Line
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With the expectation that travel restrictions between Ireland and Britain will be removed soon, ferry company Stena Line is bringing its new vessel Stena Estrid back to its key Holyhead – Dublin route.

It will replace the Stena Horizon, which will return to its former role serving Rosslare – Cherbourg.

The ships had swapped due to increased freight demand on direct routes to France and low travel volumes between Holyhead and Dublin. The end of lockdowns have resulted in freight volumes increasing again, so the company needs to switch the vessels back to their pre-lockdown roles.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Trade Director says: “With huge pent up demand for travel between Ireland and Britain, and the added bonus of Duty Free, now’s the right time to switch Stena Estrid back.

Stena Horizon will again operate alongside Stena Foreteller on Rosslare – Cherbourg, offering 12 sailings per week to France. We’ve doubled our frequency on our direct services to the Continent.”

The last sailing of the Stena Estrid to France will be the 15:00hrs departure from Cherbourg on 23rd May; the ship will then reposition for the 20:30 departure from Holyhead to Dublin on 24th May.

The last sailing of the Stena Horizon from Dublin to Holyhead will be the on 14:45hrs departure on 24th May. The vessel will then return to join the Stena Foreteller on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route, where Stena Line has doubled frequency post-Brexit and offers freight customers the most frequent and shortest service to North West France. Stena Horizon’s first departure from Rosslare to Cherbourg will 21:00hrs on 25th May.

Stena Estrid will provide two daily return crossings each way between Holyhead and Dublin. Where it is expected that onboard Duty-Free sales, now available after Brexit, will become very popular.

Stena Line offers the most comprehensive choice of services on the Irish Sea, with 6 routes from Ireland to Scotland, England, Wales and France, and more than 220 sailings weekly.

Published in Stena Line
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Irish Ferries and Stena Line, the two key players in Ireland’s ferry industry, are today calling for the reopening of the Common Travel Area (CTA) at the earliest opportunity. They also welcome comments made last week by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, when he talked about the possibility of restoring the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and Britain as an “initial first step” for the travel and tourism sectors.

With virus levels now low in Ireland and the UK, and vaccination programmes progressing in both countries, Irish Ferries and Stena Line are calling on Ministers and industry stakeholders to urgently look at restoring the long-standing CTA agreement for Irish and UK citizens, and permit unrestricted travel between Britain and the island of Ireland.

Paul Grant, Trade Director for the Irish Sea, at Stena Line said: “COVID-19 infections are now at low levels and vaccination levels are increasing significantly in both countries. In the UK for example 66% of adults have now received their first dose and 30% have had both, so there is now a real need to focus on solving some of the economic impacts of the pandemic, and an obvious starting point are the hard-hit tourist, hospitality and travel sectors. With the restoring of travel between the islands of Ireland and Britain, we can start to rebuild these sectors locally in advance of the full resumption of international travel, which may take more time to agree and deliver.”

Andrew Sheen, Managing Director for Irish Ferries commented: “The ferry industry has played a key role in helping to keep vital food and medical supply lines open during the height of the pandemic. With the current UK infection rate of 48 cases per 100,000 population comparable to the lowest in Europe, we need to acknowledge the shared land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and eliminate the discrepancies and loopholes on travel restrictions on the island. Irish Ferries and Stena Line welcome the Tánaiste’s recent comments on the possibility of restoring the CTA in advance of the full resumption of international travel and would urge the Irish Government to prioritise its implementation.”

The issue with the CTA has arisen due to differing approaches by the Irish and UK governments. The Irish Government requires passengers from Britain to have a negative PCR test and they must also quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The UK Government has never imposed requirements for testing or quarantine for people travelling from anywhere on the island of Ireland to Britain. The Northern Ireland Assembly also has never imposed testing or quarantine on anyone travelling from Britain.

Both companies are also stressing that they need time to prepare for the resumption of travel. Urgent clarity is needed regarding dates so that the ferry companies can ensure they are ready from an operational perspective.

Published in Ferry
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Swedish ferry company Stena Line’s revenue from its onboard shops for the first quarter of the year has shown a large increase on its routes between the UK and the EU compared to the same period last year. The growth is due to 'Duty-Free' sales, which exceeded the company's expectations. It shows the huge potential the onboard retail sector has to provide a much-needed boost to the travel industry after lockdown.

Following Brexit, 'Duty-Free' sales are permitted onboard ferry routes between the UK and the EU. Passengers can make 'huge' savings, sometimes of up to 60%, compared to high street prices on alcohol, cigarettes and cosmetics, which can all be purchased tax-free.

Sales figures from the first three months of 2021 are far outstripping 2020, despite having only half the passengers travelling onboard the company’s ferries. Overall sales on UK – EU routes were 34% higher in Q1 2021, than they were in Q1 2020. These figures were even higher on the Irish Sea where they were up 53%, while they were 14.6% higher on the North Sea. Duty tends to be higher in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, than on the Continent, so there is more incentive to buy tax-free.

Stena Britannica

However, it is the amount that each passenger is spending that is showing the largest increases. On average the amount spent in Stena Line’s onboard shops per person has risen an impressive 80%, as people snap up bargains on the likes of Jameson Whisky, Absolut Vodka and Amber Leaf tobacco.

Stephen Bryden, Stena Line’s Head of Onboard Sales and Services, said: “‘we have invested heavily in revamping and, in some cases, extending our onboard shops so the response is very positive and has outstripped our expectations. Following the large demand that we are experiencing from people eager to enjoy the savings they can make onboard, the company will now be extending our sales offering even further. The ferry sector has suffered worse than many other sectors as we have remained fully operational 24/7 during pandemic, despite having lower passenger and freight levels, so the boost from 'Duty Free' is a welcome side-effect of Brexit not only for us but for all our passengers too.”

Sales of alcoholic drinks highest with popular brands leading the way. For instance on the Irish Sea sales of Jameson Whiskey for the first quarter of this year have outstripped sales for the whole of 2020, despite the much lower passenger levels.Figures are gathered from sales data on Stena Lines four UK routes where 'Duty Free' is currently permitted, these include routes from Wales to the Republic of England and the four routes between England and The Netherlands (see full list below).

Stena Line’s routes where 'Duty Free' is permitted

  • Holyhead – Dublin
  • Fishguard – Rosslare
  • Killingholme – Hook of Holland
  • Killingholme – Rotterdam Europoort
  • Harwich – Hook of Holland
  • Harwich – Rotterdam Europoort
Published in Stena Line
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A Dublin Bay sea mist that lay in the middle of the bay most of the morning had enveloped most of the south shore by lunchtime, reducing visibility down to 50 metres or less at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The morning had seen a large number of different types of pleasure craft enjoying the bright sunshine and calm conditions. 

Met Eireann had forecast Northeast or variable force 3 winds with some patches of mist or fog.

There were groups of different dinghy classes, sailing cruisers as well as fishing boats, jet skis and motor cruisers all enjoying one of the first weekends of 2021 afloat. 

The Stena Ferry disappears in the mist Photo: Barry O'NeillThe Stena Ferry disappears in the mist Photo: Barry O'Neill

Canoeists and paddleboarders and rowing boats hugged the shore at Scotsman's Bay as the mist grew thicker.

There were plenty of swimmers and day-trippers sampling the admittedly very cold February waters of just 7 degrees.

The extent of the mist meant that by 2.30 pm there most boating activities were kerbed with the fog lifting just after 4 pm.

Published in Dublin Bay
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Ferry company Stena Line plans to start operating two fossil-free battery-powered vessels on the route between Gothenburg and Frederikshavn in Denmark no later than 2030. This was announced by Stena Lines CEO Niclas Mårtensson during a press conference about the industry collaboration project Tranzero Initiative, in Gothenburg on Thursday 4 February.

In an effort to speed up the transition to fossil-free fuels in the transport sector, Stena Line together with Volvo Group, Scania and the Port of Gothenburg have joined forces in the Tranzero Initiative collaboration project to bring about a significant reduction in carbon emissions linked to the largest port in the Scandinavia. The aim is to cut emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 in the Port of Gothenburg.

During a press conference about the Tranzero Initiative on Thursday, 4 February, Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson announced the company´s plans to launch two fossil-free vessels on the Gothenburg-Frederikshavn route before 2030.

“We now move from vision to vessel with the battery-powered vessel Stena Elektra. Within a year we will present the outline specifications and at the latest by 2025, we plan to order the first vessel. This will be a huge step towards fossil-free shipping”, said Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line Group and member of the Swedish Government Electrification Commission.

Stena Elektra will be the world’s first fossil-free RoPax vessel of its size and will measure approximately 200 metres and combine a passenger capacity of 1000 with 3000 lane metres freight capacity. The vessel will be built in high tensile steel to lower the weight and increase efficiency and it is estimated the vessel will run on battery power for approximately 50 nautical miles, the distance between Gothenburg and Frederikshavn. The battery capacity will need to be approximately 60-70 MWh and the vessel will be charged in port. Stena Line also looking into combining the electrification with other alternative fossil free fuels such as fuel cells, hydrogen and bio methanol for longer reach of the vessels.

”The electrification of shipping has only just begun. We see a great potential for both battery hybrids and battery-powered vessels on several of our short-sea shipping routes in the future. But, it takes more than the electrical ships, we also need to develop the infrastructure and charging possibilities in the ports and terminals in the same pace and that is a reason why collaborations projects like this are so important, said Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line.

Battery hybrid already operating

Since 2018 Stena Line is operating the battery hybrid vessel Stena Jutlandica on the Gothenburg-Frederikshavn route, using battery power for manoeuvring and powering the bow thrusters when the ship is in port. The batteries are charged with green shore power in port of Gothenburg as well as during operation and in total the CO2 emissions are lowered by 1,500 tonnes per year, equal to the emissions from 600 cars per year.

Published in Stena Line
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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