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French Ferry Operator Plays it Part on D-Day 70th Anniversary and Not Just 'APP' Service

6th June 2014
French Ferry Operator Plays it Part on D-Day 70th Anniversary and Not Just 'APP' Service

#FrenchD-DayFerries- As the eyes of the world will be focused on Quistreham, as previously reported, the French ferryport in northern France will be where the largest 'international' ceremonial event to commemorate the 70th D-Day Anniversary takes place this afternoon, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The allied invasion on 6 June 1944, was the largest amphibious assault ever launched and today's commerorative event (click for live TV coverage 3pm) in Ouistreham is the outer port of nearby Caen.

Royal families, heads of states and governments and world leaders and notably members of G'7' among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, though Russian President, Vladimir Putin will be attending in his own capacity.

Due to the major event, Brittany Ferries which operates between Ouistreham (on the edge of 'Sword' Beach) and Portsmouth have diverted a scheduled round-trip sailing to Cherbourg instead. The diverted sailing from the UK port by Mont St. Michel is expected to arrive in Cherbourg at 16.00, one hour after the start of the major international commemorative event.

The Normandy port on the Cotentin Peninsula is as previously reported on Afloat.ie, is where the Breton based operator runs a service to the Hampshire port as well as to Poole in neighbouring Dorset.

Portsmouth was one of the key strategic locations across the UK south coast, where thousands of Allied troops left for Normandy 70 years ago and landed on Sword Beach, the easternmost of the five Normandy code-named beaches where more than 150,000 men came ashore. Thousands of men and indeed women were lost in the battle to liberate occupied France.

Fittingly both ports will be marking D-Day events in remembrance and Brittany Ferries which started the Ouistreham ferry service in 1986, is also playing a part by holding on board lectures about the historic World War II event.

For many of its customers, the route to the port which is connected to Caen by the Canal de Caen de la Mer, carries an unmistakeable symbolism as the canal is also the location of the famous 'Pegasus' bridge at Benouville.

Special arrangements have also been made to book veterans aboard its ferries also to Cherbourg and Le Havre as they travel to Normandy during this first week of June to pay homage to lost comrades.To accompany these VIPs, additinal staff at its ports and on board are to welcome and look after them.

Some veterans have chosen to hold special on-deck remembrance ceremonies as they approach the Normandy coast, where Brittany Ferries' captains will reduce speed of vessels to enable wreath-laying ceremonies at sea.

The ferry operator has launched a D-Day APP for more details click HERE and much more.

As for the present day, 900,000 passengers annually take the Portsmouth-Caen route and where 'Sword' beach played such an integral and strategic role compared to the peacetime leisure activities in which we all enjoy freedom and liberty.

This is in absolute stark reality to the critical and momentous World War II event, in which those who fought saw the very same beach for the first and also their last during enemy action. Today we all have the luxury to see the France coast and not merely as a fleeting glimpse!

 

Published in Ferry
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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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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