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Displaying items by tag: ICG acquire ferry

Irish Ferries announced today the addition of a second ro-ro cruise ferry Isle of Innisfree to its Dover-Calais route joining Isle of Inishmore, which was launched just months ago onto the premier UK-France link, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, title to the 28,833 tonne ship Calais Seaways transferred to Irish Continental Group (ICG) upon delivery yesterday. Following drydocking and rebranding into Irish Ferries livery, the 1,140 passenger/83 freight vehicles or 600 cars capacity ferry is expected to enter service within the first week of December.

The debut of the renamed ferry, Isle of Innisfree (the third to take the name) will double frequency on the short-sea link between Britain and mainland continental Europe, thus providing customers a complete UK landbridge service with their Irish Sea routes. In addition the two-ship service will enable Irish Ferries to be closer to rival DFDS three-ship operation, though P&O Ferries have four ferries plying on the Strait of Dover.

Isle of Innisfree, originally launched as Prins Filip was built in 1991 by the Boelwerf shipyard in Belgium, however did not enter service until the following year for RMT, a Belgium state operator that also linked the UK from Dover to Oostende. Despite several change of ownerships and under various renamings, the ferry has spent for the most part of a career plying between south east England and northern France.

The introduction of Isle of Innisfree offers a host of quality facilities for freight drivers/passengers such as a self-service restaurant, café/bar, Club Class lounge, onboard duty-free shop, children’s play area and spacious outdoor decks.

Commenting on the acquisition of secondhand tonnage, Andrew Sheen, Irish Ferries Managing Director, said: “We are delighted be able to add a second ship to our Dover / Calais route, with the ship doubling our frequency with a departure every 2 ½ hours rather than the current 5 hours between sailings. The ship underlines our commitment to this route and facilitates trade for both exporters and importers as well as ensuring capacity for essential passenger movements and greater choice for tourism”.

Afloat also adds the name of ferry chosen, Isle of Innisfree revives that of a previous vessel of the same name when ICG ordered their first custom-built newbuild which entered service on the Dublin-Holyhead in 1995. The order for Isle of Innisfree (II) on the Ireland-Wales route was much needed to modernise, as predecessor B&I Line (acquired in 1991 by ICG) was an ailing Irish state-owned company operating ageing smaller tonnage. 

As for the first ever ferry named Isle of Innisfree, this took place in the early 1990's under the brand of B&I (when chartered-in by ICG). Despite the change of ownership, ICG retained the line's famous trading name until consigned to history at the start of 1995. 

The second Isle of Innisfree built in the Netherlands served the Ireland-north Wales link until replaced by Isle of Inishmore in 1997 and which in turn was replaced by Ulysses in 2001. The cruiseferry continues to operate the Irish Sea service.

As referred above, the Isle of Innisfree, ICG eventually sold the renamed Kaitaki following years on charter in New Zealand as Afloat reported over the years. The ship continues to operate in the southern hemisphere for operator, KiwiRail. Their InterIander service links the north and south islands across the Cook Strait on the Wellington-Picton route.

A pair of larger passenger, freight train-enabled ferries have been ordered to replace Kaitaki along with two other fleetmates. The first of the newbuilds is due to enter service in 2025 and the second in the following year.

Both ro-pax ferries are to be built by South Korean shipyard Hyundai Mipo Dockyard which is currently building the Isle of Man Steam-Packet's newbuild ro-pax which is to be named Manxman and delivered in 2023.

The newbuild will replace Ben-My-Chree which was built by Van der Giessen de Nord that was also responsible for the construction of the Innisfree/Kaitaki and the Isle of Inishmore.

In addition the Dutch shipyard also built Blue Star 1 which is on charter to ICG following the transfer of Isle of Inishmore from the Rosslare-Pembroke route. 

Published in Irish Ferries

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!