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Former Irish Sea Stena 'Nordica' to Make Debut for DFDS Seaways

19th April 2015
Former Irish Sea Stena 'Nordica' to Make Debut for DFDS Seaways

#FerryExchange - Former Dublin Port-Holyhead ferry, Stena Nordica directly replaced by last month's much larger Stena Superfast X, is in France prior to entering a new career, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 405 passenger ro-pax Stena Nordica as previously reported on Afloat.ie spent a stint serving out of Belfast after the introduction on the Dublin route by the 1,200 passenger Stena Superfast X. The newcomer entered service on the night of March 9th alongside Stena Adventurer. 

This saw the withdrawn 'Nordica' cover Belfast-Cairnryan route serving sisters Stena Superfast VII and VIII. The pair formed part of a Stena six-ship refit totalling £6m at Harland & Wolff.

Following North Channel duties, Nordica set off for the Damen Arno Dunkerque, where the 24,206 tonnes vessel is having work required for her Stena charter to DFDS Seaways. It is understood she has been renamed Malo Seaways. 

Currently moored alongside the facilities Quai de Douvres, the name is a giveaway as to her pending role as previously reported on Afloat.ie, she is to be deployed on the Danish company's Dover-Calais service.

When Malo Seaways enters the premier short-sea UK-France route, her debut will be somewhat full-circle given that Stena Superfast X, the former Dieppe Seaways was also chartered from Stena to serve this same Strait of Dover route.

The Arno yard in Dunkerque Est neighbours that of Dunkerque Ost, where the ferry company also operate a service to Dover.

The French North Sea port is also where Dieppe Seaways stood down and went to layup before she headed to a Polish yard for Stena Line in preparation of her Irish Sea debut.

When Malo Seaways enters service she will provide much needed additional capacity to provide DFDS Seaways with a two-ship service, where Calais Seaways is presently running.

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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