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Sole Surviving Stena HSS off Spain Heads to Another World in Turkey

6th November 2015

#AnotherHSSWorld – Since the sole surviving HSS 1500 fastferry departed Holyhead, Wales last weekend, the previous Stena Explorer is currently off the Spainish coast, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The craft sold by Stena Line to Turkish owners and renamed One World Karadeniz, departed her former Welsh homeport from where she made her debut in 1996. For 18 years she plied on the route to Dun Laoghaire Harbour until withdrawn in 2014.

In that timeframe she carried over 15 million passengers, 3 million cars and over half a million freight units on almost 29, 000 sailings on the Ireland-UK route.

It was observed all of the Stena Line livery markings were removed, while I was making a trip through Holyhead by coincidence in the early hours of that same day before she finally made her departure from the Anglesea port.

At the stern the new name of the Finnish built craft could be seen albeit in the dim light prior to boarding a night ferry to Dublin Port.

During mid-day the HSS bid farewell to Holyhead and vice-versa as Stena staff and spectators witnessed an emmotional farewell of the historic occasion. She was due to have departed the previous Thursday, however weather conditions changed such plans.

A flotilla of local tugs escorted the 126m long by 40m wide craft out of the confines of the inner harbour before transferring One World Karadeniz for her delivery voyage by the tug Bluster.

The Dutch anchor-handler and supply tug of more than 2,000 tonnes is towing the almost 20,000 tonnes fast-ferry.

So far the repositioning voyage of One World Karadeniz has included a final exit of the Irish Sea, through the Celtic Sea and a first for the craft with a passage in new waters off the Bay of Biscay.

By mid-morning today, the Bluster was making 4.8 knots with her tow of One World Karadeniz some 44 nautical miles off Fisterra along the north-west coast of Spain.

Afloat understands that voyage time to Turkey is expected to take 17 days to reach Yalova. The port with several shipyards is to the south-east of Instanbul.

It will be interesting to see what future the new owners have in mind for HSS craft given her high-fuel costs of recent years. Could she be converted for other purposes? given her large wide decks for use as a platform but this is only speculation.

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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