#NorthChannel – In an unusual move, a Dover-based freight-ferry is to be deployed on P&O Ferries Larne-Cairnryan route for two months while a pair of ropax sisters are refitted on Merseyside, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Sisters European Causeway and slightly longer European Highlander of 21,000 gross tonnage will depart North Channel duties to Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.They are to undergo apiece an 18-day refit work.
European Seaway, one of the Dover-Calais fleet which P&O Ferries usually deploys as an accompanied freight-only vessel carrying up to 200 passengers on the English Channel, will travel to the North Channel to cover for them. This is to begin over the next two months.
The 124 x 15m freight unit capacity European Seaway, is slightly larger in tonnage terms at 22,988 to the route’s routine ropax sisters that ply the busy short-sea ferry crossing to Scotland.
The programme for the North Channel ropax comprises hull repairs, blast and paint jobs and steel deck renewals is scheduled to be completed by early June. This will be the first time the ships have been re-fitted since 2015 when improvements were made to passenger facilities.
The £1.2m contract for the refits also includes P&O Ferries central corridor Dublin-Liverpool route in which ropax sister, Norbay has already begun a refit as Afloat reported earlier this week. The 17,500 gross tonnage ship is to be followed by Norbank. Both dry-dockings will take 16 days to complete.
As Afloat reported at the start of this week, P&O chartered-in vehicle-carrier, Neptune Aegli which took up duties from Norbay. The Greek operated ship also joins European Endeavour which had been drydocked in February at the Merseyside dockyard and shipbuilder.
As also alluded in that earlier report, P&O Ferries Hull-Zeebrugge sisters Pride of Hull and Pride of Bruges returned recently from career- extension refits in Gdansk, Poland, but this also included a Dover-Calais pair. They are Pride of Canterbury and Pride of Burgundy. The refits of this quartet by Remontowa shipyard cost £14m. Pride of Burgundy is a larger and converted sister of the North Channel bound European Seaway.
The 1991 built European Seaway is the only sister of four ‘Super-Freighter’s built for Dover-Zeebrugge service that remains in an un-altered state. The other trio were modified with extensive rebuilding of passenger accommodation block added to the ship’s superstructure.
On a trip to Cornwall during 2004, European Seaway was observed laid-up in Falmouth. Since then the career of the ferry has not always been in a such a role. Charters have included serving as accommodation-only vessel during construction of wind energy projects in the North Sea.