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Carlingford Ferry Makes En-Route Call to Arklow Port Prior to Dry-Docking

20th February 2018
Ro-ro ferry Aisling Gabrielle of Scenic Carlingford Ferry is seen underway from Greenore Co.Louth. The vessel is currently off-service for annual dry-docking though services remain operating using a relief ferry. Ro-ro ferry Aisling Gabrielle of Scenic Carlingford Ferry is seen underway from Greenore Co.Louth. The vessel is currently off-service for annual dry-docking though services remain operating using a relief ferry. Photo: SCF facebook

#FerryNews - Aisling Gabrielle, the ro-ro vessel that launched the first ever Carlingford Lough ferry service last year departed Arklow Port this morning for dry-docking purposes, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 44-vehicle Aisling Gabrielle opened the new cross-border service linking Greenore Co. Louth and Greencastle, Co. Down last summer, saving considerably mileage and journey times. A relief ferry, Frazer Mariner since the weekend maintains the 20 minute crossings. The service also generated new tourism potential and economic benefits for communities on both shores of the lough.

As for Aisling Gabrielle, a departure took place from nearby Carlingford Pier yesterday and which led to an arrival in Arklow Port mid-afternoon. The en-route call was to load bunkers and a crew rest overnight, with the ferry moored alongside the North Quay.

The same process took place in Wicklow Port last year where Afloat reported of the repositioning voyage of the former Foyle Venture. The ferry had emerged fresh from drydocking in New Ross complete with name change and corporate livery in advance of the new service.

While Aisling Gabrielle is off service for scheduled annual drydocking maintenance, this again sees the return of the UK built ferry to the Wexford Boatyard on the banks of the River Barrow.

As the name suggests, Frazer Mariner is this also operated by the Frazer Ferries Group. The Limerick based company opened the new Scenic Carlingford Ferry service as well as to the re-opening last year of the Lough Foyle service.

Likewise the north-western service is branded similarly as Scenic Lough Ferry, though the Greencastle, Co. Donegal-Magilligan, Co. Derry service is seasonal-only, April to September.

Last year, Aisling Gabrielle also carried out relief crossings for the Group's Waterford estuary service which link's Passage East, Co. Waterford and Ballyhack, Co. Wexford.
The route operated by the 28-vehicle F.B.D. Dunbrody along with the Passage East Ferry Co where acquired by the Group in 2016. The operation continues to trade under the previous name.

It remains to be seen if Aisling Gabrielle during its south-east call will also lead the ferry to relieve on the Passage East service as was the case last year.

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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