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New Stena 'E-Flexer' Ropax Makes Delivery Voyage Completing Trio for Irish Sea Service

3rd January 2021
The newest Stena 'E-Flexer' series ropax Stena Embla was tracked by AFLOAT heading through the Irish Sea on New Year's Day and followed by a first arrival yesterday to Belfast Harbour from where it will enter service on the route to Birkenhead (Liverpool). Above the Chinese newbuild is seen taking bunkers from a tanker alongside while off the Spanish port of Algerciras during a month long delivery voyage from Asia.  The newest Stena 'E-Flexer' series ropax Stena Embla was tracked by AFLOAT heading through the Irish Sea on New Year's Day and followed by a first arrival yesterday to Belfast Harbour from where it will enter service on the route to Birkenhead (Liverpool). Above the Chinese newbuild is seen taking bunkers from a tanker alongside while off the Spanish port of Algerciras during a month long delivery voyage from Asia. Credit: Stena Line UKIE-retweeted

Stena Embla the latest Chinese newbuild 'E-Flexer' class ropax completed a month-long delivery voyage to Europe where the ferry is to join sisters on the Irish Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 40,050 gross tonnage newbuild built in Weihai, was tracked by Afloat.ie on the evening of New Year's Day in the Celtic Sea heading into the Irish Sea bound for Holyhead, Wales to where a brief call was made in the early hours of the next day before proceeding to Belfast Harbour. The new ferry berthed at the port's VT2 terminal.

The last port of call during Stena Embla's long delivery voyage was the southern Spanish port of Algerciras, opposite of Gibraltar, having called previously via Singapore, Sri Lanka and then a transit of the Suez Canal.

The Spanish call was to enable 'bunkers' transferred from a small tanker. On a related note, at the same time Stena Embla was tracked in the Celtic Sea, another tanker, Lizrix from Falmouth, was anchored off Rosslare Europort prior to entering the Wexford port to refuel Stena Horizon serving on the Cherbourg route.

The French service was recently boosted in freight capacity as the ro-ro Stena Foreteller took up service before Christmas which was earlier than planned to tomorrow's original start-up date. This was due to a major surge in demand from hauliers to arrive in mainland Europe and avoid customs checks of a post-Brexit UK.

While there is much attention to yesterday's newest 'Brexit-buster' route to Dunkirk operated by DFDS, Stena will introduce Stena Embla as the second E-Flexer on the Irish Sea between Belfast and Birkenhead (Liverpool). The new ferry has a capacity for 1,000 passengers, 120 cars and 3,100 lane metres of freight.

The other E-Flexer is Stena Edda along with Stena Mersey currently operates the 8 hour route. Each of the E-Flexers, have 40% more deck capacity, 40% more cabins and 30% more fuel-efficient than the Stena Mersey which will be replaced by the newbuild.

Stena Mersey along with former fleetmate and sister Stena Lagan (lenghtened last year to increase freight capacity), was in March replaced by the the E-Flexer, Stena Edda. Both of the 'river' theme named ropax vessels will be reunited when work also to enlarge Stena Mersey is due for completion next summer. At that stage, both the pair will have been renamed to reflect a deployment to a Baltic Sea route for the same operator.

As for the third E-Flexer on the Irish Sea, this is the leadship of the class Stena Estrid which entered service almost a year ago on the Dublin-Holyhead route. This winter the ferry was on relief duty between Belfast-Birkenhead but is back operating routine duties on the premier Irish Sea route.

In total Stena Ro Ro has ordered 9 of the Stena E-Flexer class and all built in China, though last year there was a change of ownership at the shipyard in Weihai.

Three of the newbuilds have been chartered to Brittany Ferries, firstly the Galicia which made a debut in December on UK-Spain service whereas DFDS will receive their E-flexer on the short-sea Dover-Calais service this year.

Published in Stena Line, Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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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About Stena Line

Stena Line is one of Europe's leading ferry companies with 37 vessels and 17 routes in Northern Europe operating 25,000 sailings each year. Stena Line is an important part of the European logistics network and develops new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea. Stena Line also plays an important role for tourism in Europe with its extensive passenger operations. The company is family-owned, was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Gothenburg. Stena Line has 4,300 employees and an annual turnover of 14 billion SEK.

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