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Brittany Ferries Newbuild Prepares Way for LNG Powered Era

5th January 2017
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Brittany Ferries announce letter of intent for a new ferry with the same German yard that is constructing ICG's new €144m cruiseferry for Irish Ferries. The announcement from the French operator to have the cruiseferry powered by LNG will be their first such vessel and confirms a commitment to improve on reducing harmful sulphur emissions which has led to the Cork-Roscoff flagship Pont-Aven fitted with 'scrubbers' last year. Brittany Ferries announce letter of intent for a new ferry with the same German yard that is constructing ICG's new €144m cruiseferry for Irish Ferries. The announcement from the French operator to have the cruiseferry powered by LNG will be their first such vessel and confirms a commitment to improve on reducing harmful sulphur emissions which has led to the Cork-Roscoff flagship Pont-Aven fitted with 'scrubbers' last year. Photo: Brittany Ferries

#NewLNGbuild - Irish Continental Group (ICG) parent company of Irish Ferries, in May 2016 announced an order for a new cruiseferry in a German shipyard in which Brittany Ferries have also signed a letter of intent with the same yard to construct a newbuild.

Afloat adds the Irish order to Flensburger Schiffbau (FSG) scheduled for delivery in May 2018 notably differs to that of the French ferry given this newbuild will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The 42,000 gross tonnage ferry will operate on the English Channel but the Breton based company has a seasonal service to Ireland as referred below.

The announcement re-states Brittany Ferries' commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its operations by embracing new technologies. It follows the completion of a £65m investment in emission-reducing 'scrubber' systems retrospectively fitted to the flagship Pont-Aven (Cork-Roscoff: seasonal) and five other cruise ferries in the company's ten-ship fleet.

According to Brittany Ferries, the newbuild will be one of the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly ships to operate in UK waters because LNG emits less carbon dioxide during combustion than marine fuel oil and burns with no smoke. In addition it is free of sulphur and is very low in nitrogen oxide emissions.

Christophe Mathieu, CEO, Brittany Ferries said: "The signing of this letter of intent with the Flensburger shipyard is a concrete step towards the construction of a new generation of Brittany Ferries ships. Despite Brexit, we remain confident in our ability to continue to grow and modernise our route network, serving both tourism and trade in the regions of western Europe."

More than four in five people travelling on the French company's ships are British and more than 2.4 million passengers were carried in 2016. A final contract for the 1,680 passenger and 257 cabin vessel is expected to be signed in spring 2017, following which construction will start.

The new ship is expected to launch in 2019 on the Portsmouth­-Caen route which offers three daily return sailings. It will operate in tandem with popular cruise ferry, Mont St Michel, launched in 2002.

 

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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