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Stena Line has introduced a larger (chartered) ro-ro freight ferry, Bore Song, on the Dublin – Liverpool (Birkenhead) route, which will increase capacity on the Ireland-England route by 30%.

The Dublin-Liverpool dedicated freight service has been operational since 15th February with cover ships (Stena's Horizon/Nordica) serving customers temporarily whilst the company searched for a longer-term solution.

Bore Song entered service on the route last night (14 April) on the 18:00hrs sailing from 12 Quays in Birkenhead (see photo above). With capacity for almost 3,000 lane metres of freight, the ship provides significantly more space and is well suited for the demand for unaccompanied freight on this route.

With the addition of the new vessel to the Irish Sea fleet, Stena Line will now restore capacity on the Rosslare – Fishguard and Rosslare – Cherbourg routes.

Paul Grant, Trade Director Irish Sea, Stena Line said, “Bore Song is a welcome addition to our Stena Line fleet and will secure our capacity on our new unaccompanied freight route between Dublin and Birkenhead. Our ships and our teams onboard have been flexible with covering the route whilst we searched for a longer-term solution, and we’re delighted to have secured the vessel to boost our freight capacity and better serve our customers on a key trading route between Ireland and Britain.”

The Swedish company is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet providing up to 248 weekly sailings offering the widest choice of routes including combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan; Belfast to Liverpool; Dublin to Holyhead; Rosslare to Fishguard and Rosslare to Cherbourg.

The company also runs a dedicated freight only route from Belfast to Heysham, in addition to the new Dublin – Liverpool service.

Published in Stena Line

Bore Song, the 25,586 gross tonnage ro-ro freight ferry that Stena Line has chartered for Irish Sea service, completed its repositioning voyage from Lübeck, Germany, to Dublin Port this afternoon, writes Jehan Ashmore.

On arrival in Dublin Bay at 1330 hours off the Muglins Lighthouse, Dalkey, the port’s pilot cutter, DPC Tolka, transferred a pilot to the Bore Song in the southern approaches to the bay.

The near-3,000 freight-lane-meter-capacity vessel owned by Bore Ltd. of Helsinki, Finland, is to operate as the ‘permanent’ vessel on Stena Line’s newly opened Dublin-Birkenhead route. The introduction of such a ship on this basis will give hauliers confidence and security of capacity.

Afloat sought a timeframe for the charter, which begins next week, 15 April; however, Stena declined to make any further comment on the specific details of the arrangement involved in the use of the 210 trailer unit vessel built in 2011 by FSG, Flensburg, Germany.

The central corridor route linking Ireland and England is currently served by Stena Nordica and was previously run by Stena Horizon, which launched the freight-only route in mid-February following the withdrawal in December of the P&O Ferries route, albeit based out of Liverpool Dock, linking the Irish capital.

Earlier in the week, Afloat tracked the Bore Song between Denmark and Sweden, offshore of Varberg, a former Stena Line port on the Kattegat, and then caught up with the vessel in the southern North Sea.

At that time, Wednesday evening, when in the westbound shipping lane approaching the Strait of Dover, offshore of Ramsgate, Kent, was in the vicinity, the Finnwave, another ro-ro freight ferry that had departed Zeebrugge, Belgium, and is operated by Finnlines (Grimaldi Group), was bound for Rosslare Europort.

It was not until yesterday, 2100, that Bore Song had reached the other end of the English Channel, off Land’s End, Cornwall, before heading into the Celtic Sea.

On arrival at Dublin Port, the tug Beaufort, which had been waiting at the former ESB Poolbeg oil jetty, moved away to assist the 195-metre vessel into berth at Terminal 5, which flanks the port’s eastern estate on the north side of the Liffey. The terminal was where P&O operated but is now also used by CLdN Ro Ro S.A., which also operates upriver out of Terminal 3 and at berths along Ocean Pier.

Tonight, Bore Song is scheduled to depart, so to carry out further berthing trails at Birkenhead (Twelve Quays) Terminal, Stena’s north-west England hub-port, with passenger and freight routes to Belfast.

With the Bore Song in Irish waters, it was observed that the freighter retained its owner’s livery scheme; however, given that this ro-ro is the permanent vessel, Stena Line will no doubt at the very least change the funnel colours.

Bore Song’s owners, Bore Ltd are part of the Dutch Spliethoff Group, which includes Transfennica, whose con-ro Timca was until last month on a short-term charter to the ICG/Irish Ferries routes of Dublin-Holyhead and from the Irish capital connecting Cherbourg, France.

The Timca is one of six of the ‘Splietoff’ class con-ro vessels built in Poland.

From 2022, Bore Song was chartered to Transfennica, operating from Lübeck to Paldiski, Estonia, where the route on the Baltic Sea remains in the service of twin, Bore Sea.

Published in Stena Line

Ferry operator, Stena Line has confirmed plans to launch a new freight-only Dublin-Birkenhead (Liverpool) route which is start service in mid-February 2024.

The new central Irish Sea service will initially operate with one ro-ro ship departing Dublin early in the morning and making the return journey from Birkenhead in the evening.

Stena Line which already operates from Dublin Port and Birkenhead and with this new service will complement existing routes from Dublin to Holyhead and Belfast to Liverpool. The company is currently assessing ship deployment options for the service.

Commenting on the new service, Paul Grant, Trade Director (Irish Sea), Stena Line said: “The launch of our new freight service between Dublin and Birkenhead secures an important trade route on the UK/Ireland corridor and further strengthens our position on the Irish Sea. Stena Line will now operate two routes out of both Dublin Port and Birkenhead establishing key logistics hubs, connecting freight flows across the Irish Sea and creating efficiencies for port users.”

Barry O’Connell, CEO, Dublin Port Company, said: “It’s essential for Ireland’s economy that we have strong availability and competition on direct shipping routes between Dublin Port and the UK. We are pleased to welcome Stena Line’s new Dublin-Birkenhead route which brings choice to the market.”

This will be Stena Line’s seventh route in the Irish Sea region in addition to Belfast-Cairnryan, Belfast–Heysham, Belfast–Liverpool, Dublin–Holyhead, Rosslare–Fishguard and Rosslare–Cherbourg.

“With our extended operational contract with Peel Ports at Birkenhead and the expansion of our operations at Dublin Port, this route further demonstrates our commitment to our customers in the region and we are confident it will be a success, offering direct access to the UK, Ireland and into Europe,” Mr Grant added.

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet, up to 238 weekly sailings offering the widest choice of routes including, combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead, and Rosslare to Fishguard in addition to Rosslare to Cherbourg.

In addition to the new Dublin-Birkenhead freight route in early 2024, the company runs an existing dedicated freight-only service of Belfast-Heysham.

Published in Stena Line
#FERRY NEWS-Stena Superfast VII the first of two ferries to make a new career on the North Channel departed Poland yesterday after completion of an extensive upgrade in Gdansk. The work included the installation of a Nordic spa containing a sauna and jacuzzi, a novel feature to appear on an Irish Sea ferry service, writes Jehan Ashmore.
She is expected to arrive on Saturday at Loch Ryan Port, the new £80m ferry terminal at Cairnryan, which replaces Stranraer, as the new route to Belfast. The new service will reduce sailing times as Stranraer is located at the end of Loch Ryan and as such is eight-miles away from the open sea.

The New Superfast leaves Gdansk

The 30,285grt newcomer and her sister Stena Superfast VIII will become the largest ever ferries running on the North Channel , though prior to entering service on 21 November, they will undertake berthing trials and crew training.

For the next two-years the sisters are on charter from Scandinavian operators Tallink, and are to operate the new 2 hour 15 minute route with 12 crossings daily. The ten-deck ships can carry up to 1200 passengers, 660 cars or 110 freight units. The sisters will be re-gistered in their new homport of Belfast.

The relocation of Scottish ferry port and the introduction of the Superfast sisters will replace the existing pair of conventional ferry tonnage, Stena Caledonia and Stena Navigator (1984/15,229gt) the latter vessel is believed to be sold. In addition HSS sailings will cease causing the HSS Stena Voyager to become redundant, she was the second of the trio of pioneering HSS 1500 craft built.

When Stena Superfast VII departed Gdansk, she passed the Stena Vision which operates Stena Line's Karlskrona-Gdynia route, the Baltic Sea city lies to the west of Gdansk. Also in Gdansk was the Stena Feronia, the former Irish Sea serving Visentini built ro-pax Dublin Seaways, which was operated albeit briefly by DFDS Seaways last year on the Dublin-(Birkenhead) Liverpool service.

She served under her new Scandinavian owners but the firm's first foray into the Irish market lasted a mere six months. DFDS Seaways sold their Irish Sea network to Stena Line (to read report click HERE) with the exception of their Dublin-Birkenhead service which closed. In addition the Dublin-Heysham freight-only route which closed until re-opened by Seatruck Ferries. The route is currently served by Anglia Seaways, the freightferry which DFDS previously used on the route is on charter to the operator.


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!