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Stena's Dublin Route ‘Nordica’ to Transfer to Newcomer's Former Dover Role

16th February 2015
Stena's Dublin Route ‘Nordica’ to Transfer to Newcomer's Former Dover Role

#ShipsSwap – Stena Nordica is due to leave the Dublin-Holyhead route next month in a swap that sees replacement 'Superfast X' which as previously reported had served on the Straits of Dover, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Stena Line are to transfer the outgoing 'Nordica' (see related report) to DFDS Seaways Dover-Calais route from where the newcomer Stena Superfast X had operated the UK-France link under the name Dieppe Seaways.

The 29,800 tonnes 'Superfast' ceased Straits of Dover sailings last November when a two-year charter from Stena Ro Ro had expired. She is to join the Dublin-Holyhead route's second ship Stena Adventurer in her new Irish Sea role.

The move is a consolidation and expansion of services by Stena Line out of Dublin Port following the announcement to close the neighbouring route from Dun Laoghaire to Wales.  

DFDS Seaways has confirmed that it will be adding the Nordica to the short-sea link following the ro-pax's final sailing for Stena scheduled on 8 March prior. In turn the Stena Superfast X is set to make her inaugural sailing in the early hours of the next day. 

The entry of Nordica will bring DFDS Seaways' France fleet back to five vessels since Dieppe Seaways stood down and went to layup in Dunkerque.

She is undergoing in Poland as reported on Afloat.ie a major refit and conversion by MacGregor at Romentowa's Nauta Yard in Gdynia.

Likewise the Nordica will be dry-docked for a refit and rebranding before joining the DFDS Seaways single route operated ferry, Calais Seaways. The 405 passenger newcomer is expected to be ready for business in the next couple of months.

Carsten Jensen, senior vice president at DFDS Seaways, commented: "We have been looking for a suitable fifth ship on our Dover-France routes to bring our Calais service back up to two vessels".

"The introduction of the Nordica, coupled with an engine upgrade on Calais Seaways, will help us restore a reliable daily service of up to 20 sailings between Dover and Calais, which is good news for our customers and good news for our loyal crew and operations teams too."

The newcomer is to serve the premier UK-continent link in which last month a case by the Competition Appeal Tribunal's ruling on the SCOP/Eurotunnel was welcomed by DFDS Seaways.

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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