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What’s In a Name: Sten A. Ferry- 50 Years in Service

14th October 2012
What’s In a Name: Sten A. Ferry- 50 Years in Service

#STENA 50 YEARS- This year marks the 50th anniversary of Stena Line, the household name of the Swedish owned ferry giant. The company took the trading name from founder Sten A. Ollsen who began originally in 1939 with a small chartered cargoship named Dan, after his son, who currently holds several chairman positions throughout the Stena sphere of operations, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The first foray into a passenger (only) ferry was in 1962 with chartered tonnage on a route from Stenpiren in Gothenburg to Skagen in Denmark. The vessel the MS Østersøen was packed with happy, Christmas-shopping Gothenburgers looking for alcohol, tobacco and food at bargain prices! It seemed as if a new phenomenon had started in Gothenburg.

Only two years later the company had announced its first custom-built car ferry, Stena Germanica, which was to serve on the night-service from Gothenburg to Kiel. As the company continued to become successful, more routes were developed and new or chartered tonnage was added.

Among the new vessels ordered during the 1970's was Stena Scandinavia, one of a quartet of well proportioned and handsome looking car-ferries built for Stena's Scandinavian service. She served the Swedish-German route for five years until sold in 1978 to Irish Continental Line (ICL) to become Saint Killian (scroll down) on Irish-French routes.

In 1981/2 she was lengthened and renamed Saint Killian II, a name she retained also with her Irish Ferries career. She was sold in 1998 to Greeks interests, then resold with the vessel chartered to Algérie Ferries. There were also periods of lay-up until she was scrapped in 2007 in Alang, India.

Over the past four decades the Stena Line group has expanded considerably and is one of the world's largest ferry operators with an extensive ferry (and freight) network of 19 routes in Scandinavia and radiating from ports in the UK. In total the routes connect eight countries, served by 35 vessels, and overall the company employ 5,700 people.

Stena Line are running a 50 years with memories! campaign, where prizes are being given away including a year's free travel with the operator, and 5 iPhones, for details click HERE.

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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!