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Brittany Ferries Charter ConRo on New UK-Spain Freight Service

26th January 2016

#NewFreightService – Irish hauliers trading to Iberia, will have added choice as Brittany Ferries are to charter a conro vessel to launch a new Poole-Bilbao freight route to begin service next month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 12,079 tonnes conro Pelican with capacity for 100 unaccompanied trailers and 12 drivers, had been on long term charter to the French Ministry of Defence. The 1999 built vessel is to serve Brittany Ferries for one-year with an option to extend.

Pelican will carry out two round-trips per week on the UK-Spain service. Previously, LD Lines until 2014 had run two routes from Poole but to other northern Spanish ports and also operated an Iberian link to Ireland via France but that too closed in the same year.

Brittany Ferries reported a 20 per cent increase in freight traffic across all routes and that 2016 has also started strongly. The introduction of the Pelican with additional capacity it is hoped by the company will drive even more business through Poole.

"There is a very limited charter market for this type of vessel and we were delighted to find a cost-effective vessel on the French International Register," commented Simon Wagstaff, Brittany Ferries' freight director. This will allow us to operate effectively, but also to balance the books in this important area of our activity."

The charter of Pelican will assist Brittany Ferries to meet growing demand from freight customers and free up more garage space on other ships on their Spainish network. The conro is owned by Compagnie Martime Nantaise (MN) which also operates and manages a fleet of mostly ro-ro vessels serving on the international charter market.

Notably, MN also manage the 1896 built three-masted barque Belém, (which has called to Irish ports), on behalf of the Belem Foundation for the Caisses d’Epargne group. The long career of the historic barque built in Dubigeon Nantes had involved several owners, among them, Arthur Ernest Guinness who during the 1920 had her sailing as the Fantôme II.

Published in Brittany Ferries
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).

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