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Charter of Newer & Faster Passenger RoRo for Irish Ferries Rosslare - Pembroke Route

26th March 2021
A newer and faster passenger ro-ro ferry from Greece, Blue Star 1 is to enter Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route. The chartered ferry from the Mediterranean, is to replace Ireland-Wales route's Isle of Inishmore which opens a new service for ICG, notably on the Dover-Calais service. As for the 'blue' hulled livery for Blue Star 1, this is existing, though for the charter, the Irish Ferries name and funnel colours, Afloat adds in reality have already been applied at Piraeus yard. The last and only time a 'blue' hull appeared for Irish Ferries was their former 'Rosslare'-based France routes cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde.  A newer and faster passenger ro-ro ferry from Greece, Blue Star 1 is to enter Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route. The chartered ferry from the Mediterranean, is to replace Ireland-Wales route's Isle of Inishmore which opens a new service for ICG, notably on the Dover-Calais service. As for the 'blue' hulled livery for Blue Star 1, this is existing, though for the charter, the Irish Ferries name and funnel colours, Afloat adds in reality have already been applied at Piraeus yard. The last and only time a 'blue' hull appeared for Irish Ferries was their former 'Rosslare'-based France routes cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde. Credit: ICG

With Irish Ferries to launch a first ever service on a UK-France route next month, the company also announced the addition of a passenger ro-ro ferry Blue Star 1 to its Rosslare to Pembroke Dock route.

The ship (to replace Isle of Inishmore) is being chartered from the Attica Group and delivery is expected in early April 2021.

Blue Star 1 was built in 2000 by the Van der Giessen de Noord shipyard in the Netherlands, the same shipyard that in 1997 built Irish Ferries Isle of Inishmore, currently servicing the Rosslare to Pembroke Dock route.

The Blue Star 1 has the capacity to carry up to 1,500 passengers, 100 freight vehicles and up to 700 cars depending on freight volume.

The ship offers a host of quality facilities including 192 cabins for freight drivers/passengers, self-service restaurant, café/bar, Club Class lounge, onboard duty-free shop, children’s play area and spacious outdoor decks. The tripling of cabin numbers will facilitate more single occupancy cabins for freight drivers, a welcome development for our freight customers.

Andrew Sheen, Irish Ferries Managing Director, said: “We are very pleased to add a quality ship of the calibre of the versatile Blue Star 1 to the Irish Ferries fleet. This ship will be the fastest RoRo Passenger ship operating between Britain and Ireland and this will help ensure schedule integrity. The introduction of this ship underlines our commitment to the Rosslare to Pembroke route, the primary shipping corridor between Ireland and South Wales. It also underlines our commitment to the significant contribution that this route makes in facilitating trade for both exporters and importers as well as facilitating essential passenger movements and future tourists as the country re-opens post COVID-19”.

Published in Irish Ferries, 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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