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Bypass-Brexit Freight Ferry Bound for France Forced to take Rosslare-Ringaskiddy! Passage

25th February 2021
Stormy Seas and gales in February saw disruption not just in Dublin Bay but across routes and services out of other ports, among them ro-ro Bypass-Brexit operations of Brittany Ferries. The operator was forced to cancel freight sailings so to enable Armorique (above) retain a sailing schedule of a new four-route network connecting Ireland directly to the EU via France. THIS evening Armorique departs Rosslare on a scheduled sailing at 20.00hrs bound for St. Malo. Stormy Seas and gales in February saw disruption not just in Dublin Bay but across routes and services out of other ports, among them ro-ro Bypass-Brexit operations of Brittany Ferries. The operator was forced to cancel freight sailings so to enable Armorique (above) retain a sailing schedule of a new four-route network connecting Ireland directly to the EU via France. THIS evening Armorique departs Rosslare on a scheduled sailing at 20.00hrs bound for St. Malo. Credit: Brittany Ferries

As adverse weather impacted February, particularly Storm Darcy's disruption to Dublin Bay shipping, gales also affected Brittany Ferries new 'freight'-ferry network of Ireland-France operations, writes Jehan Ashmore.

It was during routine tracking this day last week, that Afloat noted with somewhat of a surprise that the French operator's cruiseferry Armorique, had sailed along the south coast from Rosslare Europort to Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour.

With such inclement weather, Afloat speculated that this was the cause of Armorique's repositioning passage from Leinster to neighbouring Munster. This was indeed the situation as Afloat contacted Brittany Ferries to confirm to the related 'Bypass-Brexit' routes that avoid the UK land-bridge.

A spokesperson from the operator's UK office commented that Armorique’s 20.00 Rosslare-St Malo sailing (last) Thursday and the 20.00 St. Malo-Cork sailing the next day, 19th February, were both cancelled due to the weather.

(These cancelled 'evening' sailing times are shown in bold below from the new freight routes/ added sailing schedule Afloat previously reported).

So given the weather impact on Armorique's four route network roster, this led the 2009 custom built ferry, having to sail in 'ballast' when sailing off the Wexford, Waterford and Cork coasts. The arrival to the southern city port was to retain to the scheduled route roster, with the 18.00 Cork-Roscoff sailing taking place on 20th February.

Day Depart Time Arrive Time (next day)

Monday Roscoff 20:00 Cork 14:00
Tuesday Cork 20:00 Roscoff 14:00
Wednesday Roscoff 20:00 Rosslare 14:00
Thursday Rosslare 20:00 St Malo 17:10
Friday St Malo 20:00 Cork 15:00
Saturday Cork 18:00 Roscoff 12:40

Given the topic of weather, hence the caveat in this timetable to cite sailings subject to weekly variation and change as Afloat previously reported in advance of the inaugural sailing of the new routes/additional service sailings through Rosslare and Cork. 

A week later and today, sees Armorique in Rosslare with a scheduled sailing (this evening at 20.00) along with in port, Isle of Inishmore and Stena Estrid. The E-Flexer ropax last month opened a new Dublin-Cherbourg service but is understood to be off service temporarily to cover Rosslare-Cherbourg ropax Stena Horizon. This smaller ropax is this winter's Irish Sea relief ferry while the Stena fleet are overhauled in dry-docks.

In all the years reporting for Afloat's 'Ferry' News, Armorique's role in operating to such a route rotation involving four routes and between just two nations (Ireland-France) is easily the most intense and complex. The same operator's flagship Pont-Aven on the Cork-Roscoff route (due to reopen in mid-May), which traditionally continues beyond France, by linking Brittany to the UK and from there a UK-Spain route before returning in reverse on this three-route network connecting four nations.

In the previous decades of the '80 and '90's, Irish Ferries operated longer (Rosslare/Cork routes to France), but not to the extent of Armorique's solo running role, as the Irish ferry operator had the use of two ships serving three routes, among them Cork-Cherbourg. The French port is the main ro-ro Brexit-Bypass transport hub for freight hauliers requiring convenient links to EU member state nations and beyond.

Irish Ferries however currently operate the Dublin-Cherbourg route where ropax Epsilon and another chartered in ferry, Mega Express Four provide additional Bypass Brexit services. The latter ferry also runs on the Dublin-Holyhead route with W.B. Yeats taking the roster of Ulysses which is in overhaul. 

Afloat will also delve further into these direct Ireland 'continental mainland' routes (briefly dipping into the past) and those of the present.

Published in Rosslare Europort
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 Rosslare Europort

2021 sees Rosslare Europort hitting a new record with a total of 36 shipping services a week operating from the port making it one of the premier Irish ports serving the European Continent. Rosslare Europort is a gateway to Europe for the freight and tourist industries. It is strategically located on the sunny south-east coast of Ireland.

Rosslare is within a 90-minute driving radius of major Irish cities; Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Rosslare Europort is a RoRo, RoPax, offshore and bulk port with three RoRo berths with a two-tier linkspan, we also have a dedicated offshore bulk berth.

Exports in Rosslare Europort comprise mainly of fresh products, food, pharmaceuticals, steel, timber and building supplies. While imports are largely in the form of consumer goods such as clothes, furniture, food, trade vehicles, and electronics.

The entire Europort is bar-swept to 7.2 meters, allowing unrestricted access to vessels with draughts up to 6.5 metres. Rosslare Europort offers a comprehensive service including mooring, stevedoring and passenger-car check-in for RoRo shipping lines. It also provides facilities for offshore, dry bulk and general cargo.

The port currently has twice-daily round services to the UK and direct services to the continent each day. Rosslare Europort has a fleet of Tugmasters service, fork-lift trucks, tractors and other handling equipment to cater for non-standard RoRo freight.

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