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Arrow Returns from Channel Islands Charter to Support Isle of Man Christmas Back-Up

15th December 2015

#FreightFerries - Seatruck Ferries Arrow on charter to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, is currently returning to the Irish Sea in advance of Christmas, following freight relief cover for Channel Islands operator Condor Ferries, writes Jehan Ashmore.

When the 65 trailer unit Arrow returns to the Isle of Man, this will allow for added back-up cover should the ropax Ben-My-Chree require during the busy Christmas period and be subject to any damage or mechancial issues.

Arrow, an ‘R’ class freight-ferry and sister of Clipper Ranger (see, Seatruck’s third Liverpool ship) has been standing in for the winter maintenance overhaul of Condor Ferries ro-pax Commodore Clipper. The 550 passenger/55 car ro-pax has undergone a ‘scrubber’ emission technology installation to comply with the EU low sulphur directive.

Commodore Clipper also received a new livery given that applied to this year’s newcomer, Condor Liberation. The Austal built 102m fast-ferry trimaran craft made her debut in March on the Poole-Guernsey-Jersey routes.

To maintain the daily lifeline demands of the Channel Islands link to the UK, a two-ship service (to Portsmouth) was ensured by the Arrow in support of Condor Ferries freight-ferry, Commodore Goodwill. The company cited, it is always difficult to secure the right sized vessel, given the harbour restrictions imposed by St. Helier, Jersey and St. Peter Port on Guernsey.

Work to install scrubbers on the Commodore Goodwill, is also part of the winter overhaul programme on the vessel that also links Jersey with France, using the port of St. Malo, from where Condor Rapide also provides a fast-ferry link to the continent.

Commodore Clipper represents the only conventional ferry tonnage on the Channel Islands-UK and likewise of the ‘Goodwill’ she serves Portsmouth. As of yesterday afternoon, the Arrow departed the Hampshire port and is bound intially for Liverpool with an arrival on Merseyside tomorrow morning.

The ‘Clipper’ however, still remains out of service, while in dry-dock at A&P Falmouth. The 1999 Dutch built ro-pax is of a similar design of the Steam Packet’s Ben-My-Chree which too was completed by Van de Giessen du Nord but in the previous year.  

She mostly operates the Douglas-Heysham route. In addition she runs a winter Douglas-Birkenhead (Liverpool) service as fast-ferry, Manannan is 'wintering' in the Manx capital from where the craft resumes sailings to Liverpool's landing stage in Spring 2016. 

 

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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