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Displaying items by tag: Vacancy: Harbour Master

Afloat highlights the above busy scene as a trio of ferries and all from the same operator gathered recently in Rosslare Europort, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Most notably among the Stena Line ferries was the arrival of Stena Vinga (on right) which for the first time arrived to the Co. Wexford port. The ropax vessel is serving in the role of Irish Sea winter relief ferry while on 'loan' from Stena's fleet based in Scandinavia.

According to the operator's timetable, the temporary replacement ferry (firstly standing in on the Rosslare-Cherbourg service ) is to remain operating on the Ireland-France connection until the route's routine ropax Stena Horizon returns on 28 October. This is to involve an inbound sailing from Normandy. 

Normally Stena Vinga operates the Gothenburg-Frederikhavn route that links the west Swedish city (homeport headquarters of Stena Line) and the east Danish port. This route is only 15 minutes longer than the Rosslare-Fishguard route served by the veteran vessel Stena Europe which too ran in Scandinavia firstly for Sessan Line. 

On this day last week Stena Vinga began Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings albeit with much reduced passenger and freight capacity though this does note pose an issue given it is a much quieter time of the year coupled with Covid-19 restrictions.

Stena Vinga's transfer to the Ireland-France connection had led to the continental route's Stena Horizon deployed to the Dublin-Holyhead route. This allowed the ropax to take over the roster of Stena Estrid the leadship of the new 'E' -Flexer series.

The newbuild built in China had only entered service in January is currently covering Belfast-Cairnryan crossings. This is to enable Stena Superfast VII dry-dock for annual maintanence at Harland & Wolff.

Stena Vinga replaced a previous relief ferry Stena Nordica which recently carried out such duties including its former routine route of Dublin-Holyhead and beforehand Belfast-Liverpool, a first for this ropax despite until then serving all of Stena's Irish Sea network. 

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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