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Stena Embla to Start Sailing Between Britain & Ireland in the New Year

1st December 2020
Stena Embla in Weihai, China Stena Embla in Weihai, China

Swedish ferry company Stena Line has officially taken ownership of its newest ferry, Stena Embla, following a handover ceremony in Weihai, China. The vessel is the third of five new next-generation E-Flexer RoPax vessels that are being constructed at the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard, as part of an extensive modernisation of the company’s fleet. It is last of three new vessels due for the Irish Sea, which marks the end of a 7-year development programme totalling a £400m investment in new ferries and port infrastructure in the region

The vessel will now embark on a six-week journey to the UK and Ireland, where it will begin service in January 2021, joining its sister vessels, the other two new E-Flexer ferries built in Weihai, Stena Estrid and Stena Embla, which started in operation in earlier this year.

Due to the pandemic the handover was a lower key affair than previous vessels with Stena Embla’s Senior Master Neil Whittaker, and his team, taking delivery in China. While Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Mårtensson joined remotely from the firm’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Stena Embla skipper Neil WhittakerStena Embla's Senior Master Neil Whittaker

“Today marks the end of 7 years hard work,” said the company’s COO Peter Arvidsson, “so we are delighted to take ownership of the third new ship on schedule. With the new crew in place they can start the long journey to the Irish Sea, where Stena Embla will begin serving customers in the UK and Ireland.”

Niclas Mårtensson said the delivery of Stena Embla marks the end of a very difficult year for the firm: “Taking ownership of Stena Embla is a major milestone for Stena Line, as we look forward to better times ahead” said Mr Mårtensson. “While delivery of the vessel marks the end of a very tough period for us, it also marks the completion of a very significant investment in our Irish Sea operations. It reflects our strong support for the region that will see three of the world’s most modern ferries operating between Britain and Ireland. We recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the relocation of our Northern Ireland operations to Belfast and 25 years since we commenced the Holyhead to Dublin route. Our three new ferries in the region is a sign of our strong commitment to another 25 years on the Irish Sea” he added.

Stena Embla Sky Bar	Stena Embla Sky Bar

The new Stena Line E-Flexer ships are amongst the most advanced and fuel-efficient vessels in operation and are much larger than today’s standard RoPax vessels (*details below). At 215 metres in length, Stena Embla will provide freight capacity of 3,100 lane metres, meaning a 40% increase in freight tonnage, and the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers and crew.

The remaining two E-Flexer vessels under construction in China are even larger versions with a total length of 240 metres. The destination of the as-yet-un-named ferries has not yet been revealed.

STENA EMBLA FACTS

The name Embla is connected to Stena Line’s Scandinavian heritage. It is an Old Norse name. In Norse mythology, it was the name of the first woman. Its origin comes from the Old Norse word for 'elm'.

  • Builder CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard (Weihai, China)
  • Type Ro-Pax ship
  • Ferry route/home ports Birkenhead (Liverpool) – Belfast
  • Operator STENA LINE
  • Speed 22 kn / 41 kph / 25 mph
  • Length (LOA) 215 m / 705 ft
  • Beam (width) 28 m / 92 ft
  • Gross Tonnage 42,400 gt
  • Lane Metres 3,100
  • Passengers 1,000
  • Cars 120
  • Freight vehicles 210
  • Cabins 175

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes between Ireland and Britain including Dublin to Holyhead, Rosslare to Fishguard, Belfast to Cairnryan, and the Belfast to Liverpool and Heysham routes, a total of 232 weekly sailing options. Stena Line also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with three return crossings a week, which is increasing to 7 crossings every fortnight from 1st January 2020.

Published in Ferry
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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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