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Former Stena HSS Could Be Turned Into A Whole New World As An Istanbul Office!

22nd November 2015

#HSStoOffice? - Former HSS Stena Explorer now remamed One World Karadeniz following sale to Turkish owners is understood to have arrived at Yalova yesterday marking the end of almost a three week long delivery voyage, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The last highspeed-ferry to serve the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route until withdrawn in September 2014, departed her Welsh homeport where she had been idle until 1 November. On that day she began her delivery voyage to the Turkish port under tow of tug/supply vessel Bluster. She was reported here on Afloat while off Spain and subsequently transiting the Strait of Gibraltar.

According to the current issue of Ships Monthly magazine, the sole surviving HSS 1500 class vehicle carrying catamaran craft may be destined for a new role in Turkey as a static office berthed in Istanbul.

Previously on it was speculated that the almost 20,000 tonnes fast-ferry craft could be converted into a floating hotel (like old ferries in Scandinavia), though that was before it was known that the 'Explorer' had been sold to Turkish owners.

Among the diverse business interests of the owners understood to be behind One World Karadeniz, the portfolio includes real estate and energy involving a fleet of powerships. 

So it will be intriguing to see what outcome is planned for the former 1,500 passenger fast-ferry and will that mean office workers could park their cars onboard!

At 40m wide the generous beam of the HSS could prove to be a most interesting space even if occupied for office purposes which these days are increasingly more open-planned and colouful (i.e. information technology firms). If so this is where the design of the HSS could also prove ideal for those in creative-led firms.

She has a single passenger deck divided into three open-planned areas, where the main section amidships has very large windows that run alongside both sides of the 126m long Finnish built craft. 

In the original configuration of the Stena Explorer when launched on the Ireland-Wales route in 1996, she featured a McDonalds outlet. This fast-food faciity was located on a raised central section.  Perhaps, this catering area could be uses as a canteen?

Located at the bow is the forward lounge area that included a restaurent, sports themed bar and club lounge and equally an impressive floor to ceiling window affording panormaic views.Could this area pose as the ideal head office? 

Towards the stern is the gift and shopping outlet, tourism information area and reception desk, though seating near these areas are far more restrictive to the openess of the adjoining main lounge.

At the stern is where all the passengers embarked and disembarked given the HSS was a stern-only orientated craft that applied also for the vehicle deck to transport cars, vans and large trucks. 

So watch this space!

Fastferry footnote: A model of the HSS Stena Explorer is on display in Dun Laoghaire at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland.

To some the model may be familiar given that it originally belonged to Stena Line who had the high-speed craft located in the foyer of the ferry terminal in Dun Laoghaire.

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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