Displaying items by tag: Central Corridor
Dawn Merchant and Brave Merchant represented the first pair of the 'Racehorse' class quartet of ro-pax sisters commissioned for the Cenargo Group. The quartet were built by Spainish shipbuilders Astilleros Espanoles SA in Seville, noting the first pair at 22,046grt where slightly smaller in tonnage terms compared to their 22,215grt counterparts Midnight Merchant and Northern Merchant. Upon delivery in 2000 the second pair were chartered to Norfolkline's Dover-Dunkerque route.
With a 130 truck capacity the Norman Trader can handle a marginally higher number of freight vehicles compared to the Norcape which handled 127 trucks. The Norcape, a 32-year-old freight-only vessel,was stood down in February and remains laid-up at Liverpool's Huskisson Dock. Incidentally, Norman Trader has joined one of her Racehorse class sisters, European Endeavour (formerly Midnight Merchant) which had directly replaced the Norcape on the central corridor route.
Likewise the European Endeavour is no stranger to the Irish route as for the last two years she has acted as winter relief vessel to cover the refits of the routes Dutch built ro-pax sisters Norbay and Norbank. The latter vessel is now undergoing a refit by Cammell Laird Shiprepairers in Birkenhead, now that the Norman Trader is in service to maintain the three-ship operated 8-hour route.
The Norman Trader had arrived into Dublin Bay last Friday from London's Tilbury Docks, on the next day she entered Dublin Port. In recent years she has operated on English Channel routes for the French shipping giant Louis-Dreyfus Armateurs through their ferry division LD Lines.
Norman Trader's (Dawn Merchant) sister Brave Merchant now renamed Norman Bridge also runs for LD Lines 'Motorways of the Seas' (MOS) route across the Bay of Biscay between Nantes /St. Nazaire to Gijón in northern Spain. The 14-hour route which started last year, which was run iniatially as a joint venture between Grimaldi Lines and Louis-Dreyfus and traded as GLD Atlantique.
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The European Endeavour will enable P&O to offer up to three Ro-Pax style sailings a day on the 7.5 hour route instead of the previous two-plus one Ro-Ro (freight-only operated) service. The 180m vessel is no newcomer on the route as over the last two years the ship has deputised to cover the annual overhauls of the routes' vessels.
The Spanish built vessel directly replaced the Ro-Ro freight ferry Norcape, which made her final sailing on the central corridor route, with the 1979 built vessel berthing at Liverpool's Huskisson Dock in the early hours of Sunday morning. Norcape could take 125 drop trailers but only had 12-passengers cabins (for freight accompanied truck-drivers).
Only last year the Japanese built vessel returned to the Irish Sea route as the Norcape but originally started a career with the B+I Line as their Tipperary on the Dublin –Fleetwood route. The UK port was switched to Liverpool in 1988, in the following year she was sold to North Sea Ferries.
The standing down of the Norcape represents the last vessel of the former B+I Line fleet to have any association with the Irish Sea. In 1991 the Irish state owned shipping company was sold to Irish Continental Group (ICG) which is a parent company of Irish Ferries. At that stage Irish Ferries operated only on the continental routes to France.
To read more about Norcape's final sailing on the Irish Sea route, click here.