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Seven Ferry Operators Express Interest to Run Seasonal Dun Laoghaire Service

5th March 2015
Seven Ferry Operators Express Interest to Run Seasonal Dun Laoghaire Service

#FerryDunLaogaire? – Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has received seven expressions of interest from operators to provide a seasonal-only ferry service to Holyhead, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat.ie has contacted the DLHC following last Friday's advert deadline for potential ferry operators to operate on the 52 nautical mile route.

A month ago, Stena Line confirmed the permanent closure of the historic Ireland-Wales link.

Prior to the ferry company responses, DLHC annnounced that any new operator would not be serving the route until at least 2016.

Following the responses, a spokesperson on behalf of DLHC said they 'will now consider these'. The harbour company added, 'final configurations would be a matter for discussion and agreement with a new provider, and would be in keeping and take account of the Harbour Company's Masterplan'.

As part of the Masterplan, the site of St. Micheal's Pier is where a major residential redevelopment is proposed.

For more than 170 years there has been a ferry service running between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead from where Stena Line has served the Irish Sea service since 1990.

In additon to conventional ferry tonnage, they introduced a small 'Lynx' fast-ferry in 1993 which was replaced by the world's largest fast craft, the HSS Stena Explorer in 1996.

Stena's decision to withdraw operations in the south Dublin Bay port, leaves a berth available for a new ferry operator in Dun Laoghaire Harbour using the terminal at St. Michaels Pier.

According to the advert document the berth is 140 metres long with a maximum depth of 5.8 metres. In addition the berthing facility is described as having a shore to ship ramp, which can easily be modified to facilitate the configuration of a new vessel.

Afloat.ie adds that St. Michaels Pier has two berths, one is custom-built to only accommodate the specialist requirements of the HSS Stena Explorer.

The second adjacent berth was also used by Stena Line when a 'Lynx' craft as previously referred but had returned in more recent years to the route. The Stena Lynx III served during the shoulder seasons when the HSS Stena Explorer had operated a year-round service until 2011.

The 19,638 tons HSS remains at her homeport of Holyhead and likewise at a custom-built berth in the inner harbour of the Welsh port.

Also in Anglesey is the Stena Superfast X, which made a delivery voyage last week from Poland having had a major refit. The 30,551 tons newcomer has yet to enter service on the Holyhead-Dublin Port route in competition with Irish Ferries

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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