#DublinSwift – The are currently no fast-ferries operating at all on the Irish Sea, not due to bad weather, but for the annual refit of Jonathan Swift, the only such craft running throughout the year, on Irish Ferries Dublin-Holyhead route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Irish Ferries which markets the fast-craft as the Dublin 'Swift' is currently undergoing maintenance at the Cammell Laird dry-dock facility, Birkenhead. Her brief absence from the route started during the week, however she to resume service on Tuesday 5 February with the 08:45 sailing from Dublin Port.
Also berthed in Birkenhead, is Irish Ferries cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore, which too is undergoing annual refit. As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the flagship Ulysses, the largest ferry on the Irish Sea, was also refitted at the same facility recently, as she returned earlier this week to the Dublin-Holyhead service.
So where are the rest of the fast-ferries?...well, there's three to be found in 'hibernation' mode. Firstly, facing opposite Birkenhead, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's fast-ferry Manannan is laying over for the winter in Liverpool docks, until required to operate routes to Douglas in the Spring.
Stena Line's HSS Stena Explorer is in lay-up at her berth in the inner harbour in Holyhead, where she is to remain until resuming her seasonal-only service starting on 22 March and running through the peak-season until September.
Finally the third fast-ferry, P&O's Express is berthed alongside Donegall Quay, Belfast, though this is not where she operates from, but on the seasonal Larne-Troon service.
Also to be found in Belfast is the laid-up HSS Stena Voyager, one of a trio of HSS 1500 series built in Finland. She became redundant more than a year ago following change of Scottish ferryport from Stranraer to Cairnryan, from where a pair of 'Superfast' ferries operate the North Channel route to Belfast.