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Stena's Diverse Fleet Shows Similarities on Irish Sea

10th November 2014
Stena's Diverse Fleet Shows Similarities on Irish Sea

#StenaSimilarities- Stena Line which operates services throughout Northern Europe including the Gothenburg-Frederikshavn route has seen the return to service of Stena Jutlandica, the ro-pax having undergone maintenance, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Last Saturday Stena Jutlandica (1996/29,691grt) resumed the 3 hour 15 minute Kattegat route between Sweden and Denmark. She strongly resembles Irish Ferries Isle of Inishmore (1997/34,031grt) which serves on the slightly longer 4 hour St. Georges Channel Rosslare-Pembroke route.

The reason for the design similarities is that Stena Jutlandica and Isle of Inishmore were both launched from Van der Geissen-de Noord, Rotterdam. The Dutch yard no longer exists.

During the four-day absence of 'Jutlandica', there was no replacement of the ferry, though route fleetmates Stena Danica (conventional ferry) and Stena Scanrail (train-ferry) provided additional sailings.

A fourth route ferry the Stena Carisma was only withdrawn from service earlier this year. The Westamarin built HSS 900 fast craft from Norway is a smaller version of the trio of Finnyards built HSS 1500 fast-craft.

The first of the revolutionary trio, Stena Explorer is unique in that she is the only HSS member left and of any fast-craft design ferry in the extensive company's fleet.

As previously reported, Stena Explorer is to resume Christmas period sailings on selected dates in December on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route. In addition she is to operate some sailings in the New Year during early January.

Her former Irish Sea running mate, Stena Voyager became redundant on the North Channel's Belfast-Stranrear before a switch of Scottish terminal. Last year she was towed to Sweden where a subsidiary of the ferry company, Stena Recycling undertook dismantling the fast-craft ferry.

The third of the trio, Stena Discovery served on the longest route operated by a HSS craft, that been Harwich-Hook van Holland. She was sold to Venezuelan interests and the craft is understood to have never entered service.

 

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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