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Rosslare-Wales Route Ferry Departs Europe to Undergo Significant Refit Upgrade in Turkey

17th April 2019
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The veteran ferry of the Irish Sea, the 1981 built Stena Europe of the Rosslare-Fishguard route is currently undergoing a significant three-month refit visit in Turkey as AFLOAT previously reported. The Gemak Shipyard in Tuzla is located outside Europe on the Asian side the of the nation. A replacement ferry on the St. Georges Channel route is Stena Nordica which can carry hazardous cargo capacity that requires an 'open deck' (otherwise not normally available) on this service. The veteran ferry of the Irish Sea, the 1981 built Stena Europe of the Rosslare-Fishguard route is currently undergoing a significant three-month refit visit in Turkey as AFLOAT previously reported. The Gemak Shipyard in Tuzla is located outside Europe on the Asian side the of the nation. A replacement ferry on the St. Georges Channel route is Stena Nordica which can carry hazardous cargo capacity that requires an 'open deck' (otherwise not normally available) on this service. Photo: Stena

#ferries - The Rosslare-Fishguard ferry Stena Europe is off service and is currently undergoing a significant three-month refit visit at a shipyard located outside Europe.

Last month Afloat monitored the Ireland-Wales ferry having left familiar waters when off Spain and prior to taking on bunkers in Gibraltar and entering the Meditteranean. According to Stena Line the ferry is at the Gemak Shipyard in Tuzla. The yard is located in the province of Istanbul, Turkey on the Asian side of the city. 

The 24,828 gross tonnage ferry which was introduced on the St. Georges Channel route in 2002 is scheduled to return late June 2019 and during the visit a number of upgrade projects will be completed.

One of the most significant projects to be undertaken includes modifications to the deckhead levels on the main vehicle deck to allow for the carriage of full-height trailers across the whole of the main vehicle deck. Prior to arrival at the Turkish shipyard, Stena Europe was restricted to carrying full-height trailers on its port side only.

Other works will include the renewal of the majority of the ship’s windows, engine and hull overhauls including blasting the whole hull to remove all the existing old paint work to improve fuel efficiency and the ships appearance.

Internally, the passenger stairwells will be revamped, a redesign of the Barista Coffee outlet, as well as upgrades to the passenger Information Desk and other decor improvements. During the refit period, the Stena Europe has been replaced by the Stena Nordica on the Rosslare-Fishguard service.

Ian Davies, Stena Line Trade Director (Irish Sea South) said: “Our ongoing ship refit programme is an important part of our business operation ensuring that our fleet operates to its maximum efficiently and is further evidence of Stena Line’s rolling investment programme for the region. The Stena Europe is an important part of our Irish Sea South fleet and we look forward to welcoming a revamped vessel back to our Rosslare-Fishguard service in the summer with the capacity to accommodate even more full-height trailers while still carrying up to 1, 400 passengers.

This is an important year for Stena Line on the Irish Sea as preparations are made to receive the first of its new generation E-Flexer series vessels, the Stena Estrid, which is scheduled to enter service on the Dublin to Holyhead route in early 2020, the first of three new E-Flexer vessels bound for the Irish Sea region..

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, operating routes between Ireland and Britain, including Dublin to Holyhead, Belfast to Liverpool /Heysham and Belfast to Cairnryan. In addition a continental direct service to France between Rosslare and Cherbourg.

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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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