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Former Cork-Swansea Ferry Debuts On 'Nice' New Service

9th July 2016
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Former Cork-Swansea ferry Julia of the Fastnet Line since closed, has entered service in recent days on a new service for Moby Lines between Nice-Bastia in Corsica. She is seen in this initial montage of a new livery scheme which has since been revised following dry-docking in Livorno. Photo: Norsk skipsfarts forum Former Cork-Swansea ferry Julia of the Fastnet Line since closed, has entered service in recent days on a new service for Moby Lines between Nice-Bastia in Corsica. She is seen in this initial montage of a new livery scheme which has since been revised following dry-docking in Livorno. Photo: Norsk skipsfarts forum

#NiceNewService - Former Fastnet Line’s Cork-Swansea ferry which was due to enter Mediterranean service later this month, has since our previous report begun sailings on a new France-Corsica service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 1,850 passenger/325 car/30 truck Julia which had served two seasons on the Ireland-Wales route closed following insufficient funds to resume sailings in 2012 and after a failed examinership. A previous operator on the Celtic Sea link was Swansea-Cork Ferries which closed after failing to find suitable replacement tonnage for Superferry that was required back by Greek charterers. 

Moby Zazà, the renamed ferry for her new French role between Nice and Bastia, Corsica, had in recent years served as a Dutch owned floating accommodation vessel. As the Wind Perfection she was stationed at anchor during a wind-farm installation project in the Irish Sea.

She was then re-sold to Moby Lines the Italian operator that has deployed the 153m long ferry on the new service. Moby also operate an extensive network to and from the Italian mainland to Sardinia, Elba and Sicily. Consequently, the new service is the operators only service connecting just French ports.

The high-season debut of Moby Zazà (1982/22,161gt) sees her operate sailings in tandem with Moby Corse (1978/14,399gt). The former North Sea veteran last month launched the new service for Moby Lines. 

Overnight sailings are 9.5 hours while daytime passages are 7.5 hours. The service links the resorts of the French Riviera on the Cote d’Azur with those located on one of the largest islands in the western Mediterranean. 

Moby Lines entry on the Nice route marketplace following the collapse of French operator, SNCM which went bankrupt, however after rebranding exercise emerged Corsica Linea this year. SNCM used to serve out of Nice and the successor leaves only existing established operator, Corsica-Sardinia Ferries to compete with Moby Lines. 

Among their Corsica-Italy-Elba routes are more veterans from the Irish Sea, Moby Vincent, the one-time St. Brendan which in 1987 operated in a joint operation between B+I Line and Sealink on the Rosslare-Fishguard route.The 1974 built Scandinavian ferry having made her Irish debut as the chartered Stena Normandica.

The Moby Love in its last career served the Isle of Man Steam Packet to the UK mainland as King Orry but not routes to Ireland. As the St. Eloi she served a stint while on relief duties for Sealink British Ferries on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route. 

 

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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. 

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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