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Displaying items by tag: BelfastHeysham

26th April 2012

Another Fine Performance

#SEATRUCK NEWBUILD - With the announcement of Seatruck Ferries new Belfast-Heysham route to open in May, the company have in the meantime introduced a newbuild this week on the Dublin-Heysham route, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Seatruck Performance brings additional capacity to the route to Lancashire and becomes the third newbuild to enter the Irish Sea where her sisters are operating Dublin-Liverpool sailings.

She has a length of 142 m, breadth of 25 m and a capacity of 151 units, which is 35 more than the earlier 'P' Class ships which have shifted elsewhere on the Seatruck network.

The final fourth vessel Seatruck Precision as previously reported is currently under construction at the FGS Flensburg yard in Germany and is expected to make her debut on the Irish Sea in June.

Published in Ferry

#NEW FREIGHT ROUTE – A new route between Belfast-Heysham is to be launched by Irsh Sea freight-only specialist Seatruck Ferries early next month, according to The Irish Trucker.

The new service will be opened on 7 May using the sisters Arrow and Ranger which will be switched from their current duties out of Larne.

Later in the year Seatruck will deploy larger vessels on the new Belfast route and move the service from Heysham to Liverpool, operating from the Seatruck terminal on the City side of the Mersey.

In Belfast, Seatruck will operate from Albert Quay terminal - directly opposite the Titanic Quarter. For much more on this story click HERE.

Published in Ferry
A two-year title sponsorship deal has been signed by Irish Sea ferry operator, Stena Line and the ice-hockey team the Belfast Giants, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Next month the team are to play in a special pre-season game against the Nottingham Panthers at the Odyssey Arena as part of the Hockey Festival Weekend (27-28 August). Following the festival the 'Giant's will then play their first competitive game at the same venue against the Sheffield Steelers in early September.

Stena Line themselves will be looking forward to introducing their own giants when two of the largest ferries are to be introduced on the North Channel in the Autumn. The two chartered 30,000grt sisterships are Superfast VII and Superfast VIII. To see the vessel breaking through an an ice-flow, click PHOTO. The 203m long pair can take 1,200 passengers, around 660 cars or 110 freight vehicles. To read more about these 'Superfast' class vessels and the new £80 port terminal click HERE.

The company's area director Michael McGrath said: "It's quite fitting that we are teaming up with the Stena Line Belfast Giants at this time as we prepare to introduce two of the largest ferries every to sail between Northern Ireland and Scotland when we open our new route and port in Cairnryan this November. The two Superfast vessels will be another two Giants to add to our team."

Last year Stena Line made a £40m acquisition of the Belfast to Liverpool (Birkenhead) and Heysham routes and four vessels from DFDS Seaways. The deal was approved by the Irish authorities but remained subject to clearance from the UK's Competition Commission until late last month when they fully approved the acquisition.

This brings to six routes the company runs on its Irish Sea route network where over two million passengers were carried each year, more than its rival ferry operators combined.

Published in Ferry
Trade through Belfast Harbour has grown for the first time in three years, up 5.4% to 16.4m tonnes, according to the port's 2010 annual report, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The boost in trade figures at the Port of Belfast reflects rising tonnages which have assisted in an improved turnover, up 5% to £34.7m and profits before taxation stood at £17.4m.

The principle driver in the ports performance came from the agri-food sector with a record 2m tonnes of grain and animal feed imports. The sector also recorded fertiliser imports alone leap by 32%, reflecting the major investment by the harbour in recent years in the dry-bulk cargo trade.

Roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) accounted for a 2% rise to 313,000 vehicles carried, partly due to the introduction of newer larger tonnage on the Belfast-Heysham route.

Belfast Harbour Chairman, Len O'Hagan, said: "Although trading conditions in the UK and Ireland remain weak, the increase in tonnages handled by Belfast Harbour suggests that business confidence is starting to return, albeit slowly.

"Belfast Harbour continues to operate in a highly competitive port sector, but I am pleased to note that the £160m which the Harbour invested in new facilities during the past decade has enabled it to emerge from the downturn with new customers and a presence in new sectors such as renewable energy.

Capital investment in the port worth almost £6m were undertaken during 2010, including the purchase of a new mobile crane, a 10,000 sq ft expansion in logistics space and preliminary works to support the proposed development of an offshore wind turbine terminal for DONG Energy (click HERE). The combined capital expenditure in these projects is in excess of £60m.

Within the ports real estate, projects at the Titanic Quarter progress at the Public Record Office, Belfast Metropolitan College and the core attraction of the 'Titanic Belfast' visitor centre.

Master planning for the 24-acre mixed-use City Quays site adjacent to the Harbour Office was secured. In addition planning permission was lodged for a 230,000 sq ft of space at Sydenham Business Park on the south-eastern fringes of the harbour.

Further upstream closer to the city-centre at the Abercorn Basin, initial work had been completed on a marina where there are more plans for the development of a 250-berth full-service leisure facility.

Next Monday the port's cruise business is to welcome a new cruiseship, the 66,000 tonnes Marina of Oceania Cruises. The 1,250-passenger /800 crew newbuild's arrival to Belfast comes in a year that marks the thirteenth anniversary since the first liner docked in the city. In 2011 over 30 such vessels are due to visit bringing some 50,000 passengers and crew.

Published in Ports & Shipping
The €40m acquisition of DFDS Seaways by Stena AB through its subsidiary Stena Line (UK) Ltd last December has been approved by the Irish regulatory authority, though its UK counterpart awaits a decision, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Irish Competition Authority's clearance of the proposed transaction sees Stena Line (UK) Ltd acquire the sole control of vessels, related assets, inventory, employees and contracts relating to passenger and freight ferry services operated by DFDS A/S.

Of the two services, the Belfast-Liverpool (Birkenhead) is for passengers and freight while the and Belfast-Heysham port route is exclusively for freight-only users. To read more about the decision from the authority click here.

In February the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred Stena AB's acquisition from DFDS A/S to the Competition Commission, conclusions on the report are not expected to be made until 25 July. To read more about the merger click here.

In the meantime the Belfast-Liverpool (Birkenhead) route continues trading under the name of Stena Line Irish Sea Ferries Ltd which is separately operated to Stena Line's other Irish Sea routes.

Sailings on the 8-hour route are run by the Italian built 27,510 tonnes ro-pax twins Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways which have been in service since the newbuilds were launched in 2005.

As the acquisition remains subject to regulatory clearance, passengers intending to travel on the route can continue to make bookings through the DFDS Seaways website by logging onto this link.

In addition the acquisition involved the sale of the South Korean built freight-ferries Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways which operate Belfast-Heysham sailings.

Published in Ferry

Stena Line's acquisition of DFDS Seaways Irish Sea services in December, has now been referred to the UK's Competition Commission by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The £40m ferry deal for two routes, Belfast-Birkenhead (run by two chartered ro-pax ferries) and the Belfast-Heysham freight-only service, included two 114-trailer capacity vessels.

The Competition Commission is expected to submit its findings by the end of July while the Irish Competition Authority is also still investigating the merger. To read more about this, click the BBC report here.

Published in Ferry

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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