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Bringing Building Blocks to Make W.B. Yeats All Ship-Shape

16th February 2018
Image illustration shows starboard side elevation of the €150m cruiseferry W.B. Yeats in which the pre-assembled superstructure (comprised of 3 x blocks) where brought by barge from Poland to the FSG yard in Germany. In a major operation heavy-lift cranes lowered the blocks onto the completed hull last week.  Image illustration shows starboard side elevation of the €150m cruiseferry W.B. Yeats in which the pre-assembled superstructure (comprised of 3 x blocks) where brought by barge from Poland to the FSG yard in Germany. In a major operation heavy-lift cranes lowered the blocks onto the completed hull last week. Photo: ICG

#FerryNews - Progress on Irish Continental Group's €150m cruiseferry W.B. Yeats has considerably moved on since the launch of the completed hull at a German yard almost a month ago, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Construction of the newbuild's hull (photos) was kept separate to where the accommodation superstructure was built. This took place place in various facilities in neighbouring Poland. The superstructure housing facilities for 1,885 passengers and cabins totaling 435 was constructed using three giant blocks.

According to Poland @ Sea, each of the block sections;fore, amidships and aft were towed on barge-pontoons (see photos) from Poland to Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in Flensburg. The technical and logistical exercise involved precise engineering skills when massive heavy-lift crane barges raised and lowered the component blocks onto the hull below.

Afloat has also been monitoring the time-schedule of this operation, as the final aft block section complete with funnel was placed into position last week at the fit-out berth at FSG.

In all the combined weight of the newly formed superstructure totals 5,500 tonnes. As for the length of the hull at 195m, this is longer to the capital's iconic ‘Spire’ if laid on its side which measures at just 120m.

As previously reported, in the course of the next few months, remaining construction work on the hull (where most of the 3kms of vehicle deck space is) will be completed. In addition the fitting-out of the 54,985 gross tonnage ferry entails technical, operational, décor, furnishings and passenger amenities to be finished. This will make the ferry the most luxurious on the Irish Sea where some cabins will feature balconies which will be put to greater use on the longer French service.

Before scheduled services can commence, W.B. Yeats will undergo sea trials, crew training and docking procedures at French, UK and Irish ports into which it will operate. The maiden commercial voyage is scheduled to take place on the direct continental Dublin-Cherbourg route in mid-July and where the cruiseferry will serve the busy summer months.

In the Autumn, W.B. Yeats will transfer to the core Irish Sea route of Dublin-Holyhead. This leaves services maintained on the year-round Ireland-France route to be operated by ropax Epsilon.

In the meantime, Irish Ferries Rosslare-Cherbourg route for this season resumes service today with a night-time departure. As usual routine cruiseferry Oscar Wilde will serve the continental route. The cruiseferry fresh from annual refit has been on temporary relief duties on the Holyhead route in addition to carrying out a once-off Dublin-Cherbourg round trip last weekend.

The re-deployment of Oscar Wilde was to facilitate Epsilon while also undergoing overhaul though the ferry is take up duties again on both the Dublin routes to Wales and France. The latter service sees the ropax return on the Dublin-Cherbourg service tomorrow mid-afternoon.

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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