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#FERRY NEWS -Seatruck Ferries newbuild freight-only ferry, Seatruck Progress carried out berthing trials in Dublin Port yesterday in preparation to her debut on the Liverpool route over the festive period, writes Jehan Ashmore.
This was the inaugural call to the capital, though she had sailed across Dublin Bay earlier this month (as previously reported - click HERE) during her delivery voyage to Liverpool from German shipbuilders FGS Flensburger.
At 142 metres long and with a beam of 24 metres, the four decked ro-ro vessel, offers more capacity to the routes existing pair of 'Point' class vessels, as she can handle an extra 35 trailer units (each of 13.5m) than the Clipper Point and Clipper Pennant.
In February, the newcomer's second sister out of four on order, Seatruck Power is set to join her on the central corridor route.
Seatruck are the only Irish Sea operator dedicated to the carriage of un-accompanied freight traffic, though the vessels can cater for driver accompanied units with a limited number of cabins.
The older sisters will both be replaced when the second newbuild Seatruck Power (for previous report click HERE) comes on stream in mid-February 2012.
Launching of M.V. Seatruck Power at FGS, Germany
Seatruck, which claims 20% of the Irish Sea market compared to just 3.7% in 2004, says it will transport 300,000 units in 2011 on its four routes: Dublin-Liverpool, Dublin-Heysham, Warrenpoint-Heysham and Larne-Larne. With the introduction of the newer larger vessels, Seatruck is aiming at the 45% of Irish Sea freight market that is still driver-accompanied.
Alistair Eagles, MD of Seatruck (Irish Sea) says that his company's share of unaccompanied freight volumes is set to grow in 2012, although the total Irish Sea ro-ro market is set to remain static next year, but better than a 1% decline in 2011.
Mr Eagles said: "We believe that our sector of the market — freight-only unaccompanied — will continue to grow. By offering pure freight services we can keep the costs down relatively lower compared with the combined passenger and freight ferry operators.
"We are seeing a switch away from driver-accompanied shipments because hauliers can save quite a lot of money."
Seatruck also benefited from a radical shake-up on the Irish Sea ferry market, with largescale withdrawals of capacity by DFDS and other changes, notably taking over the Dublin-Heysham route in February, to read more click HERE. The route is served by the chartered 120-unit Anglia Seaways which has accommodation for 12 drivers.
As for the remaining newbuild pair, they are scheduled for delivery from FGS during the first half of 2012 and deployed on yet-to-be announced routes. Like the new quartet, the same number were ordered of the 'P' class which entered service from 2008 onwards which included Clipper Pace and Clipper Panorama which currently operate 22 weekly on Warrenpoint-Heysham sailings.
Seatruck also operate Clipper Ranger and Arrow on Larne-Heysham sailings where they each provide a capacity of 65 units and offer a limited number of driver accompanied traffic accommodation in en-suite cabins.
The remaining pair are due for delivery in June 2012 from the German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) located on the Baltic Sea, close to the Danish border.
Seatruck Ferries is a division of the Danish shipping giant Clipper Group, which operates four routes in the north Irish Sea. The company offer 80 sailings per week on four routes: Dublin-Heysham, Dublin-Liverpool, Warrenpoint-Heysham and Larne- Heysham.