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Maiden Superfast X Sailing Consolidates Stena's Commitment to Dublin Port

10th March 2015
Maiden Superfast X Sailing Consolidates Stena's Commitment to Dublin Port

#MaidenSailing- Stena Superfast X, the new ferry on the Dublin Port-Holyhead route made her maiden commercial sailing this morning from Wales and completed the return leg to arrive in Anglesey this evening, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The introduction of the 1,200 pass/480 car Stena Superfast X fresh from a major refit comes in advance to tomorrow's (11 March) naming ceremony and official launch. This will be Stena Line's highest profile event on the central corridor Ireland-Wales route since Stena Adventurer made a debut in 2003.

By introducing a new ferry with four times the passenger capacity of her predecessor, Stena Nordica, this confirms Stena's commitment to consolidate all central Irish Sea operations out of Dublin Port to Holyhead.

Last month, Stena's decision over the future of the HSS fast-ferry Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route in 2015 was finally confirmed with the permanent closure of the service. The historic 52-nautical mile route's final sailing last year took place on 9th September. 

Freight capacity on the core Dublin-Holyhead route will be boosted by the entrant's 1, 924 lane metres of deck space which will cater for high-sided freight-trailers of 4.65 metres.

The Stena Superfast X operates two return sailings with a crossing time of 3 hours and 15 minutes. The 30,285 tonnes newcomer will operate alongside the Stena Adventurer, providing customers up to 28 return sailings weekly on the all year round on the route.

Superfast last Sunday carried out berthing trials in Dublin Port  and takes over the sailing roster of the 'Nordica' (see LED screen) . She carried out her final sailings yesterday from and to Holyhead, from where she made last night's repositioning passage to Belfast to arrive in the early hours of this morning.

The ferry is to be prepared for a delivery voyage to the Strait of Dover to operate Dover-Calais for another operator, in what is understood to be a charter arrangement.

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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