#FerryNews - Irish Ferries former first fastferry, Jonathan Swift departed Dublin Port today under new name Cecilia Payne for Spain, a day after a larger replacement craft Dublin Swift took over Dublin-Holyhead sailings, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In January Irish Continental Group (ICG) parent company of Irish Ferries announced that it was to sell the high-speed craft (HSC) to Balearia Eurolineas Maritimas S.A. for an agreed consideration of €15.5 million.
Jonathan Swift is an Austal-Auto Express 86m catamaran which spent a career spanning almost two decades on the core Ireland-Wales route when launched into service in 1999. The 800 passenger/200 car catamaran built by Austal Ships Pty, Australia, became the first fast-ferry ordered by ICG.
At a ceremony in 1999 held at Dublin Ferryport Terminal 1, the high-speed craft (HSC) Jonathan Swift was christened by Cecilia Larkin, then the partner of then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
During the past 18 years, the craft marketed as the 'Dublin Swift' operated crossings in just 1 hour 49 minutes. When introduced, the HSC operated alongside cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore which was replaced in 2001 by larger conventional tonnage in the form of Ulysses. In more recent years the flagship was joined by the chartered-in ropax Epsilon.
Departures today of both HSC took place in the afternoon and around ten minutes appart from the capital. This involved Dublin Swift (ICG acquired in 2016 and subsequently chartered overseas), first to pass the Kish Bank Lighthouse and bound for Wales. Astern, Cecilia Payne likewise set a similar course until rounding the lighthouse and then headed for the Bay of Biscay. The next port call is La Coruña in Galicia, northern Spain and eventually the Mediterranean where new owners Balearia await delivery.
When Cecilia Payne debuts in the Mediterranean on 1 June, it is thanks to the 35 knot capable catamaran that reduced sailings times will be made available on two routes: The Dénia (mainland)-Ibiza route and Ibiza-Palma, each taking only 2 hours to complete.
The craft's name of Cecilia Payne has been chosen by Balearia in recognition of the famous Anglo-American astronomer and astrophysicist. She was honoured for her work on the stars and as the first woman to teach at the famed Harvard University.