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New RoPax Vessels for Stena Line Beginning to take Shape

5th February 2018
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Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson (third from left) attended the official keel-laying ceremony of new RoPax vessels for the ferry operator at the AVIC Weihai Shipyard in China. The Ropax vessels are to be deployed to Irish Sea services. Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson (third from left) attended the official keel-laying ceremony of new RoPax vessels for the ferry operator at the AVIC Weihai Shipyard in China. The Ropax vessels are to be deployed to Irish Sea services. Photo: Stena Line

#FerryNews - An official keel-laying ceremony of a new RoPax for Stena Line took place at the AVIC Weihai Shipyard in China last Friday.

The traditional maritime event marks the start of the construction phase of the hull and the exterior parts of the vessel.

As previously reported on Afloat, the new RoPax vessels will be deployed on the Irish Sea and represent a key strategic investment to continue to further strengthen Stena Line’s business in the region.

“This is an important milestone in our exciting new ship building project”, said Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line, who also took part in the traditional Coin Ceremony where 4 coins (GBP, EUR, SEK and RMB) where placed under the keel-block as a symbol of good fortune.

The new vessels have a planned delivery timetable during 2019 and 2020. They will be 50% bigger than today’s standard RoPax vessels and this significant investment illustrates a continuation of Stena Line’s successful RoPax concept which mixes freight and passenger traffic as part of its operational business model.

“Our overall target is that these vessels will be the absolute state-of-the-art when it comes to energy efficiency, flexibility and customer service. In particular, we are placing heavy emphasis on developing a range of exciting new digital features which will provide our customers with unique additional services connected with their journey as well as developing a new, integrated digital onboard experience”, said Niclas Mårtensson.

“We have a positive outlook on the future and foresee continued growth within ferry transportation so this is an important strategic step in helping us to prepare our business to leverage that anticipated growth”, concluded Niclas Mårtensson.

Technical details of the new vessels:

Length: 214.5 m

Draught: 6.4 m

Breadth: 27.8 m

Car deck capacity: 3,100 lane meter + 120 cars

Passenger capacity: 1,000

Cabins: 175

Engines: 2 x V12 4-stroke diesel (2 x 12,600 kW)

Speed: 22 knots

Built: AVIC Weihai Shipyard, China

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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