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DFDS Introduce Larger Freight Ferry At Rosslare As Europort Continues By-Passing Brexit

29th January 2021
Operator of the new Rosslare Europort-Dunkirk freight-ferry route, DFDS have chartered the Drotten, a sister ropax from Scandinavian operator 'Destination Gotland'. The near 30,000 gross tonnage vessel replaces Optima Seaways, so to increase freight capacity between Ireland and mainland Europe. As above the ship is seen stern first making an inaugural arriving at the Wexford's port outer pier to undertake berthing trials in advance of commencing operations Operator of the new Rosslare Europort-Dunkirk freight-ferry route, DFDS have chartered the Drotten, a sister ropax from Scandinavian operator 'Destination Gotland'. The near 30,000 gross tonnage vessel replaces Optima Seaways, so to increase freight capacity between Ireland and mainland Europe. As above the ship is seen stern first making an inaugural arriving at the Wexford's port outer pier to undertake berthing trials in advance of commencing operations Credit: Rosslare Europort-twitter

Ferry changes yet again took place at Rosslare Europort as the ropax Drotten made a first arrival from Dunkirk, France, the bypass Brexit route that DFDS only launched this month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat first became aware of the Drotten when tracked at anchor off the Wexford port this morning. It transpires from further research that according to Rosslare Europort (the chartered ropax) Drotten arrived (yesterday) to replace Optima Seaways on the Rosslare to Dunkirk service.

The south-east port, notably operated by Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann) added the Drotten will increase freight capacity on the Ireland-mainland Europe route operated by the Danish ferry and logistics company.

Afloat adds that the introduction of Drotten will also assist hauliers by addressing an inbalance in capacity logistics given the ropax is a sister of Visby which arrived to the port this morning. This ferry is also chartered from Destination Gotland, a Swedish operator serving the large island of Gotland located in the southern Baltic Sea.

Both of the Chinese built 29,746 gross registered ropax's date from 2003 will operate along with the final existing third ferry, the slightly smaller 25,263grt Kerry. The Italian 'Visentini' built ropax also dating from 2003 is of similar design to the Optima Seaways.

The ropax pair and Kerry, each have a capacity of up to 125 units. They take a mix of freight vehicles in the form of driver accompanied trucks, un-accompanied trailers which include ambiant and refridgerated units.

The trio operate an instensive 6-days a week sailing schedule on the near 24-hour duration route to the northern French port which provides hauliers a much needed alternative to the UK land-bridge. This enables clients to remain within the EU and avoid as required new UK customs and delays, though the land-bridge routes via the Irish Sea and the Port of Dover is faster and for some cargoes still remains convenient.

As for the whereabout of Optima Seaways, the 'Visentini' also built ropax, formed the only ferry of the original trio serving on the new Ireland-France route owned by DFDS. As such this ship apty made the maiden crossing.

Afloat has since tracked this morning the ropax's return to Klaipeda, Lithuania. The two-day repositioning voyage from Ireland to the Baltic state, is no surprise given Optima Seaways has since 2012 operated for DFDS on the Klaipeda route to Karlshamn in Sweden.

The Sweden-Lithuania route runs south of Gotland and so the influence of Scandinavian operators continues to be reflected strongly on the Irish ferry scene, a ro-ro role which has taken place for decades.

Published in Rosslare Europort, 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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