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Seatruck’s New Freight-Ferry to Make December Debut

15th November 2011
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Seatruck’s New Freight-Ferry to Make December Debut
# FERRY NEWS- Next month, Seatruck Ferries will introduce Seatruck Progress, the first of four new 5,300dwt 'Heysham' max freight-only vessels on the Dublin-Liverpool service, according to a report in LloydsList.com
Seatruck Progress was launched in August from the FGS Flenberg Yard in Germany, she has a capacity for 150 trailer-units, 35 more than the central corridors existing 'P' class sisters Clipper Point and Clipper Pennant with the extra lane metres totalling 2,166m coming from a fourth deck. The older sisters will both be replaced when the second newbuild Seatruck Power (for previous report click HERE) comes on stream in mid-February 2012.

Seatruck, which claims 20% of the Irish Sea market compared to just 3.7% in 2004, says it will transport 300,000 units in 2011 on its four routes: Dublin-Liverpool, Dublin-Heysham, Warrenpoint-Heysham and Larne-Larne. With the introduction of the newer larger vessels, Seatruck is aiming at the 45% of Irish Sea freight market that is still driver-accompanied.

Alistair Eagles, MD of Seatruck (Irish Sea) says that his company's share of unaccompanied freight volumes is set to grow in 2012, although the total Irish Sea ro-ro market is set to remain static next year, but better than a 1% decline in 2011.

Mr Eagles said: "We believe that our sector of the market — freight-only unaccompanied — will continue to grow. By offering pure freight services we can keep the costs down relatively lower compared with the combined passenger and freight ferry operators.

"We are seeing a switch away from driver-accompanied shipments because hauliers can save quite a lot of money."

Seatruck also benefited from a radical shake-up on the Irish Sea ferry market, with largescale withdrawals of capacity by DFDS and other changes, notably taking over the Dublin-Heysham route in February, to read more click HERE. The route is served by the chartered 120-unit Anglia Seaways which has accommodation for 12 drivers.

As for the remaining newbuild pair, they are scheduled for delivery from FGS during the first half of 2012 and deployed on yet-to-be announced routes. Like the new quartet, the same number were ordered of the 'P' class which entered service from 2008 onwards which included Clipper Pace and Clipper Panorama which currently operate 22 weekly sailings on the Warrenpoint-Heysham route.

Seatruck also operate Clipper Ranger and Arrow on Larne-Heysham sailings, where they each provide a capacity of 65 units and offer driver accompanied traffic with accommodation in en-suite cabins.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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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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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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