#FerryBut2017? – Restoration of the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead ferry service this season faced a setback as facilities in the Irish harbour will not become available until at least 2017, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In responding to questions from Afloat.ie as to the delay, a Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) spokesperson cited that Stena Line (former route operators until 2014) have begun this week to remove HSS berth infrastructure in the harbour as previously reported.
Work is expected to be completed by August this year and DLHC added that the harbour facilities will only become available for use by a potential new ferry operator from 2017.
This will be the second successive season in which there will be no summer ferry sailings on the Holyhead route.
It was in 2015 that Stena Line finally confirmed in the permanent closure of the historic route dating to 1835.
The decision followed recent years of losses incurred on Welsh route. The link was served by highspeed sea-service (HSS) Stena Explorer until the fast-ferry was withdrawn in September 2014.
Less than half a year later, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) through a E-Tendering process received seven expressions of interest from operators to provide a seasonal-only ferry service. Before DLHC had received these responses, the harbour company said that any new potential operator would not be serving the route until at least 2016.
The 1,500 passenger HSS Stena Explorer had begun service in 1996, however from 2011 the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route was reduced to a seasonal-only service running between April and September. The sailing schedule consisted of only a single daily round-trip that was part of a raft of measures to reduce high running costs in a declining market and competition from airlines.
Stena’s departure from the Dun Laoghaire route led directly to the ferry firm consolidating existing operations out of the neighbouring port of Dublin. This was achieved by enhancing services to Holyhead by replacing Stena Nordica, with larger Stena Superfast X to partner Stena Adventurer.
In late 2015 Stena Explorer was sold to Turkish owners and as reported only yesterday on Afloat.ie, the Finnish built catamaran car-carrying craft is now back on the market for £4.5m.
Current owners, Karadeniz Holdings having abandoned plans to convert the craft renamed One World Karadeniz into a floating office in Istanbul.