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Displaying items by tag: Irish Sea fastferries

Irish Sea fast-ferry Stena Lynx III (1996/4,113grt) which has been laid-up in Dun Laoghaire Harbour since last month has been sold to interests in South Korea. Renamed Sunflower 2 and flying the flag of the Far-Eastern nation, she departed yesterday afternoon on a delivery voyage expected to take around twenty-five days, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Dublin Port pilot cutter Camac was in attendance as the 650 passenger/153 vehicle fast-ferry departed at 16.20hrs. She is re-registered in Busan, South Korea's second largest city, located in the south-east, where she is to operate to the island of Jeju off the country's south-west coast.

Sunflower 2 is to make bunker calls on the repositioning voyage, firstly in Valletta, Malta before she transits the Suez Canal to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Columbo, Sri Lanka. From there she transits the Strait of Malacca then through the South China Sea followed by the East China Sea before finally entering the Strait of Korea to her homeport of Busan.

Since 1999 she has served Stena Line's fast-ferry high-season Rosslare-Fishguard route sailings taking 1 hour 50 minutes in tandem with conventional ferry Stena Europe (1981/24,828grt) which currently maintains the year-round 3 hours 30 minutes route. It is believed that Stena Line will not be operating high-season fast-ferry services in 2012.

Prior to her Dun Laoghaire departure, her South Korean crew have been preparing the craft over the last three weeks. Notably there was the removal of all Stena Line corporate livery markings on the hull. Her new name and port of registry were painted at the stern though she retained her original name at the bow which included both symbols of an Irish shamrock aptly to starboard (green) and the Welsh dragon to port (red) to reflect her Irish Sea southern corridor route.

Stena Lynx III departing Dun Laoghaire last year, note her starboard 'Shamrock' at the bow.

In recent years on the St. Georges Channel route she was marketed as the Stena 'Express'. Her final sailing this year was 4 September and three days later she docked Dun Laoghaire at St. Michaels Pier. On the adjacent berth which is designed specifically for and only capable of accommodating the HSS 1500 class fast-ferries.

Stena Lynx III also ran several shoulder season stints on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route with the HSS Stena Explorer (1996/19,638grt) only running during the busier summer months. During this summer all sailings were maintained by HSS Stena Explorer until the route became a seasonal-only service for the first time this year when the last sailing took place in mid-September. The HSS remains in layover for the winter in Holyhead at her dedicated berth. The route is due to re-open in April or May.

The 35 knot Stena Lynx III was launched from fast-ferry catamaran specialists InCAT Pty based in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. Early in her career the 81m wave-piercing catamaran (WPC) craft served Dover-Calais followed by two seasons between Newhaven-Dieppe when renamed P&O Elite for joint operators P&O Stena Line.

Her predecessors the WPC InCat 74m Stena Sea Lynx, became the first car-carrying catamaran to operate Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead sailings in 1993. The pioneering water-jet propelled craft was replaced in subsequent years by the larger InCAT 78m Stena Lynx II.

She was replaced in 1996 when the revolutionary four gas-turbine engine water-jet propelled HSS Stena Explorer was introduced. A further two sisters of the HSS 1500 class (High-speed Sea Service) were completed by Finnyards in Rauma.

Published in Ferry
Dublin Port-Douglas sailings in the winter months are operated by Ben-My-Chree, a conventional ferry that only calls to the Irish capital on a handful of sailings during this period, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IOMSPCo) ferry docked just after midnight at the multi-user ferryport (terminal 1) and departed at around 02.30hrs. She returns to Dublin on the 22 October,17 December and the final sailing for this year is 26 December.

Following this mornings Irish route sailing, she resumed on her regular Douglas-Heysham route and she also serves Douglas-Birkenhead (Liverpool) during the winter months.

During the summer Dublin-Douglas sailings are served by fast-ferry catamaran Manannan (1998/5,743grt). The 96m InCAT built in Hobart,Tasmania had also operated Douglas-Belfast high-season crossings. Her roster is now confined to a Douglas-Liverpool sailing schedule.

Ben-My-Chree (photo) is Manx for 'Girl of my heart' and her island owners commissioned the 12,504grt ro-pax from Dutch shipbuilders Van de Giessen-de Noord. The 125m ferry was launched in 1998 and she can accommodate 630 passengers,275 vehicles and 1,235 freight lane-metres.

This particular ro-pax design has also been built for Channel Islands operator Commodore Ferries with their Commodore Clipper and a Scandinavian ferry operator. In addition another Dutch shipbuilder, Merwede built a multi-support vessel (MRV) derived from the design of Ben-My-Chree for the Royal New Zealand Navy when they commissioned HMNZS Canterbury (L421). Click for similar port-side photo view to compare differences.

Incidentally the Manannan prior to entering service last year for the IOMSPCo. was for five years chartered initially to the United States Navy but transferred to the United States Army Forces. To read more click HERE.

Published in Ferry
P&O Ferries seasonally-only operated fast-ferry sailings between Larne-Cairnryan and also to Troon closed yesterday, leaving only two fast-ferries running Irish Sea cross-channel routes this winter, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The fast-ferry Express (1998/5,902grt) which was first introduced on P&O Ferries North Channel routes, which will continue to be operated year-round using conventional tonnage. On the route to Cairnryan, a pair of conventional ferries maintain sailings and a freight-only ferry serves Troon.

As for the remaining winter-serving fast-ferries they are Stena Line's HSS Stena Voyager (1996/ 19,638grt) between Belfast-Stranraer, in tandem with conventional ferries. Next month this route will close as the Scottish terminal relocates to a new ferryport nearby at (Loch Ryan Port) Cairnryan.

In addition two sister-ferries, which are undergoing modifications and an upgrade for their two-year charter on the North Channel, will directly replace the two-hour passage times it takes for the HSS fast-ferry and the ferries Stena Caledonia and Stena Navigator which take 2hrs 50 minutes.

With the introduction of the new tonnage to the Belfast-Cairnryan route, sailings times will be reduced to 2hrs 15mins. Ironically the new ferries which albeit will be the largest to serve on any North Channel route will actually be some 15 minutes slower on the newer-shorter distance route compared to the HSS fast-ferry operated Belfast-Stranraer sailings.

The second fast-ferry service is operated on Irish Ferries Dublin-Holyhead route using Jonathan Swift (1999/5,989grt) which is marketed as the Dublin 'Swift'. She runs year-round in addition to the cruiseferry Ulysses.

Also operating fast-ferry craft is the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Manannan (1998/5,029grt) but this is on the none cross-channel route between Douglas and Liverpool.

Published in Ferry
With the recent closure of Stena Line fast-ferry services from Dun Laoghaire and Rosslare, this leaves just four such services operating this winter between Ireland and Britain. By November only half of these services will be running on routes out of Dublin and Larne, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Currently three of these four services are employed on North Channel routes. P&O Ferries operate their fast-craft Express (1998/5,902 grt) on the one-hour route to Cairnryan which is also served by conventional ferry sisters that take two-hours. Since March the fast-ferry also joined the freight-ferry on the Troon route for the start of seasonal summer sailings which are to end on 3rd October.

The third service between Belfast-Stranraer is in the hands of rivals Stena Line which maintain the HSS Stena Voyager (1996/19,638 grt) on sailings but only to around mid-November. She will be replaced by conventional sister-ships which will be introduced on the North Channel's newest port when services switch from Stranraer to a new terminal close to Cairnryan.

Finally the fourth fast-ferry is Irish Ferries marketed 'Dublin Swift' service which runs on the Dublin-Holyhead route served by Jonathan Swift (1999/5,989 grt). The craft built by Austal in Fremantle, operates alongside the conventional cruise-ferry Ulysses.

Stena Line's decision to terminate HSS Stena Explorer sailings between Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead this day last week follows fast-ferry Stena Lynx III's end-of-season Rosslare-Fishguard sailings earlier this month.

From next year, Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead sailings are to be seasonal-only and according to Stena Line they hope to resume fast-ferry sailings in April or May though no exact date has been set. Unlike the central corridor route which was entirely dependent on HSS operations, the Rosslare-Fishguard route remains operating year-round with the conventional ferry Stena Europe.

As a result of the discontinued fast-ferries, the HSS Stena Explorer is now spending a lay-up period in the Welsh port for the winter. The smaller Stena Lynx III is also 'wintering' but in on the opposite side of the Irish Sea in Dun Laoghaire, where the vessel has done so in previous years.

The lay-up of both fast-ferries in Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead is ironic considering that neither ports' are connected by the very craft that used to share sailing rosters in recent years. In addition the wintering of these catamaran craft is the first time that this has occurred since the pioneering Stena Sea Lynx fast-ferry launched such sailings in 1993.

This first 'Lynx' provided seasonal sailings on the route with conventional car-ferry Stena Hibernia, the former St. Columba, custom-built in 1977 for Sealink /British Rail. She was given a second name under Stena ownership, the Stena Adventurer and remained on the 57 nautical-mile route until replaced in 1996 by the year-round operated HSS Stena Explorer.

Apart from cross-channel fast-ferry services, the Isle of Man is served by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. Ltd's routes linking the islands capital Douglas with Belfast, Dublin, Heysham and Liverpool (Birkenhead) in the winter. These routes include seasonal services which are operated by a combination of conventional tonnage using Ben-My-Chree and fast-ferry Manannan (1998/5,089grt), a former US Navy vessel, to read more click HERE. For sailing schedules, vessel type deployed on route and for fares click HERE.

Published in Ferry

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