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Maltese Flagged Greek Owned Vehicle-Carrier Chartered to Irish Sea Operator

27th March 2017
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Presenting a sleek profile Neptune Aegli a vehicle-only carrier that began a charter with P&O this afternoon on the Dublin-Liverpool route. Presenting a sleek profile Neptune Aegli a vehicle-only carrier that began a charter with P&O this afternoon on the Dublin-Liverpool route. Photo: Neptune Lines

#Charter -A Maltese flagged Greek owned vehicle-carrier only vessel is on charter to an Irish Sea ferry operator while its ships take refit dry-docking turns in the UK, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The chartered-in Neptune Aegli can handle 1,800 cars or 1,550 lane metres of truck/trailers has begun a first sailing today for P&O Ferries. This involved an afternoon crossing from Dublin to Liverpool.

Neptune Lines operates a fleet of 16 Pure Car & Truck Vehicle Carriers (PCTC) from which Neptune Aegli joins P&O’s European Endeavour and ropax Norbay. Noting sister, Norbank this morning entered a dry dock at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. The shipyard and marine engineering facility located on the Wirral Peninsula is opposite to Liverpool Docks. 

It is a year ago when Afloat reported on the charter to P&O of Neptune Aegli. On this current charter, the 2002 built PCTC had docked in Dublin yesterday having assisted P&O operations on the North Sea. This saw the ship provide freight support relief duties for Hull-Zeebrugge ferries sisters, Pride of York and Pride of Bruges that underwent multi-million career-extension refits.

The annual refits of the North Sea 32,000 tonnes sisters took place in Gdansk, Poland, where work on the near 900 passenger each cruiseferry involved overhauls of shops, catering experience outlets and cabins and bars will now have hotspot wi-fi. In addition the extensive upgrade was carried out throughout facilities for freight customers on the UK-Belgium route.

Pride of York when launched from Govan Shipbuilders on the Clyde as Norsea in 1986 was the largest ever passenger ship built in the UK since Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth dating to 1969.

The famous trans-Atlantic ocean liner had too been built on the banks of the Clyde but from the John Brown yard.

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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