#FarewellHSS- A fast-ferry that served the Belfast-Stranraer route, which no longer exists, departed Belfast for the final time at the weekend. The ferry HSS Stena Voyager is bound for Sweden where she is to be scrapped, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 19,000 tonnes Stena Voyager is under tow to the Öresundsvarvet shipyard in Landskrona, where she will be recycled by a subsidiary of the ferry company, Stena Recycling.
All of the vessels various components will be recycled, as far as is possible, to maintain the company's environmental reputation. Some of the materials will even be reused in the form of car parts or furniture.
Stena Voyager was displaced on the Northern Channel route in November 2011 following the change of Scottish port, from Stranraer at the end of the lough to Cairnryan which is closer to the open sea.
In addition a pair of conventional yet fast ro-pax 'Superfast' ferries were introduced bringing superior facilities coupled with greater freight capacity.
These factors combined with a shorter passage time between Belfast and Cairnryan and rising fuel costs over several years saw the writing on the wall for the HSS craft, which when introduced in the mid 1990's were the pride of the Stena Line fleet.
The Swedish ferry giant commissioned a trio of HSS (High Speed sea-Service) fast-craft, whose futuristic appearance and technology was adopted from the world of aviation that included gas-turbine engines to power water-jets producing up to 40 knots.
Stena Voyager carried 1,500 passengers and 375 cars and she was launched onto the North Channel route in 1996, since then the fast-craft has carried more than 17m passengers and over 45,000 sailings.
"Whilst the HSS class was a unique and highly innovative development for Stena Line, unfortunately the spiralling costs of operating the Stena Voyager have become all too high. When the Voyager was first put into service fuel was approximately $20 per barrel and now the price is around $110 dollar, for a fuel hungry vessel this is simply untenable," said Michael McGrath, Stena Line's Chief Operating Officer.
The first of the revolutionary craft was HSS Stena Explorer which currently maintains the seasonal-only Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead having been also introduced in 1996. Final member of the class was HSS Stena Discovery which served Harwich-Hook van Holland from 1997, however she was the first to go and now serves operators out of Venezuela.
The concept of the HSS craft were also to compete with air-travel on the short hop between Northern Ireland and Scotland. In tandem the HSS ran alongside older conventional ferries, among them Stena Caledonia, which was sold last year to Indonesian operator ASDP and renamed Port Link.
#FERRY NEWS- Stena Navigator which served on the former Belfast-Stranraer route, has been sold to overseas buyers. She was one of three ferries made redundant following the switch pf ports to a new ferry terminal in Cairnryan and introduction of larger vessels, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Having only been introduced on the North Channel in late 2009, Stena Navigator (PHOTO) is now set to embark on a new career in the Mediterranean with Spanish operator Baleària. The company operates routes linking the islands to the Spanish mainland in addition to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the ferry is to start service.
The 1,650-passenger, 280-vehicle capacity vessel is currently berthed at Albert Quay, Belfast, before she makes her delivery voyage.
Launched in 1984 as Champs Elysees at Dubigeon Normandie, Nantes Saint Nazaire, for SNCF's Dover-Calais route. She then spent service Stena Line as Stena Parisien between Newhaven-Dieppe before been sold to SeaFrance. This saw her return to the Dover Strait as SeaFrance Manet until eventually sold back to Stena Line.
Berthed ahead of the 15,229grt ferry is her former fleetmate Stena Caledonia, built at the nearby Harland & Wolff and upriver the HSS Stena Voyager is berthed at VT4 Terminal. Since been laid-up the vessels were transferred to a Stena subsidiary, Northern Marine Management (NMM).
#FERRY NEWS- In the space of two days, Stena Line opened a new ferry route between Belfast-Cairnryan today following yesterday's closure of services between Belfast-Stranraer, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Sisters Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII inaugurated sailings on the 2 hour 15 minute with 12 crossings daily, and in which will use a new £80m ferry terminal at Loch Ryan Port, Cairnryan and the VT4 terminal in Belfast. The relocation of Scottish ports and terminal investment cost £200m.
The newcomers have a capacity for 1,200 passenger /660 vehicles or 110 freight units. They received a refit and upgrade in Poland where new luxurious facilities such as a Nordic Spa, interactive lounge zone with the latest in technology and free Wi-Fi access throughout the vessel and VIP lounges were installed. To read more click HERE.
At 204m and over 30,000 tonnes each the German built pair are easily the largest ever ferries to operate in the North Channel and will compete with rivals P&O Larne-Cairnryan route served by the 20,000 tonnes sisters European Causeway and European Highlander both built in Japan.
The introduction of the former Scandinavian serving sisters directly replaced Stena Caledonia and HSS Stena Voyager from the Belfast-Stranraer route which only started in 1995. Prior to then Stena Line had operated a service from Larne, which could trace ferry services for the last 123 years.
The Swedish ferry company decided to abandon the route in favour of Belfast. This development also saw the introduction of the second revolutionary HSS 1500 series catamaran ferry HSS Stena Voyager in tandem with various conventional tonnage used over the last sixteen years. The final sailings at the weekend marked the closure of nearly 140 years of several ferry operators running between Stranraer at the end of Loch Ryan and Belfast.
With the withdrawal of HSS Stena Voyager and Stena Caledonia yesterday, she joins former fleetmate Stena Navigator in Belfast, which stood down from Stranraer service last week as previously reported, to read click HERE.
The new route to Loch Ryan Port, Cairnryan includes a new £80m ferryport terminal which will be served by the 30,000 gross tonnes sisters, the largest ever ferries on the North Channel. Stena Superfast VIII is currently in the Skagerrak off northern Denmark and follows her sister Stena Superfast VII which arrived over the weekend, having also undergone refurbishment at the Romentowa shipyard.
The relocation of Scottish terminal from Stranraer to Loch Ryan Port is seven miles closer to the open sea and sailing times are to be reduced to 2hrs and 15minutes. The new terminal is to be officially opened on 25th November when First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness will join Dan Sten Olsson, Chairman of Stena Line.
As for the 15,229 gross tonnes Stena Navigator, she made her Stranraer-Belfast sailing yesterday, after de-storing at the VT4 ferry terminal, only completed in 2008, she proceeded to berth at Albert Quay, the location of the former city-centre ferry terminal.
In the interim period to the opening of the new Belfast-Cairnryan route, the sailing schedule on the Belfast-Stranraer service are been maintained by another conventional ferry, Stena Caledonia and fast sailings by the HSS Stena Voyager.
HSS Stena Voyager is expected to lay-up at VT4 after making final sailings to and from Stranraer this Sunday. It is expected Stena Caledonia will also be withdrawn that day and berth at Albert Quay. In the process she will pass Harland & Wolf shipyard, where she was launched in 1981 as the St. David, the last of the quartet of Saint-class ferries commissioend for Sealink/British Rail.
The career of Stena Navigator on the North Channel was short as she only entered service two years ago. She was built in 1984 as Champs Elysees first served for SNCF/Sealink's jointly run Dover-Calais route, followed by a brief spell under Stena Line as Stena Parisien on Newhaven-Dieppe sailings.
She returned to the Straits of Dover route but this time as SeaFrance Manet under the control of SeaFrance. In 2008 SeaFrance introduced SeaFrance Moliere, the former Superfast X, ironically another sister of Stena Line's 'Superfast' ships. This Superfast vessel along with two custom built newbuilds entered SeaFrance service in recent years which led to the eventual replacement of SeaFrance Renoir and her half sister SeaFrance Manet.
- Port of Belfast
- Stena Line
- Ports and Shipping News
- Ferry news
- Loch Ryan Port
- HSS Stena Voyager
- St. David
- Belfast Lough News
- Stena Superfast sisters
- Loch Ryan Port Cairnryan
- Harland & Wolf
- Sealink/British Rail
- SaintClass sisters
- Straits of Dover
- VT4 Terminal
- Loch Ryan Scotland
- Sealink British Rail
The New Superfast leaves Gdansk
The 30,285grt newcomer and her sister Stena Superfast VIII will become the largest ever ferries running on the North Channel , though prior to entering service on 21 November, they will undertake berthing trials and crew training.
For the next two-years the sisters are on charter from Scandinavian operators Tallink, and are to operate the new 2 hour 15 minute route with 12 crossings daily. The ten-deck ships can carry up to 1200 passengers, 660 cars or 110 freight units. The sisters will be re-gistered in their new homport of Belfast.
The relocation of Scottish ferry port and the introduction of the Superfast sisters will replace the existing pair of conventional ferry tonnage, Stena Caledonia and Stena Navigator (1984/15,229gt) the latter vessel is believed to be sold. In addition HSS sailings will cease causing the HSS Stena Voyager to become redundant, she was the second of the trio of pioneering HSS 1500 craft built.
When Stena Superfast VII departed Gdansk, she passed the Stena Vision which operates Stena Line's Karlskrona-Gdynia route, the Baltic Sea city lies to the west of Gdansk. Also in Gdansk was the Stena Feronia, the former Irish Sea serving Visentini built ro-pax Dublin Seaways, which was operated albeit briefly by DFDS Seaways last year on the Dublin-(Birkenhead) Liverpool service.
She served under her new Scandinavian owners but the firm's first foray into the Irish market lasted a mere six months. DFDS Seaways sold their Irish Sea network to Stena Line (to read report click HERE) with the exception of their Dublin-Birkenhead service which closed. In addition the Dublin-Heysham freight-only route which closed until re-opened by Seatruck Ferries. The route is currently served by Anglia Seaways, the freightferry which DFDS previously used on the route is on charter to the operator.
- DFDS Seaways
- Baltic Sea
- Stena Line
- Ports and Shipping News
- Seatruck Ferries
- North Channel
- Dublin Seaways
- Ferry news
- Loch Ryan Port
- HSS Stena Voyager
- Stena Caledonia
- Stena Navigator
- Belfast Lough News
- Visentini ropax
- Stena Superfast VII
- Stena Superfast VIII
- Stena Superfast
- Superfast Sisters
- North Channel ferry routes
- Stena Feronia
Stena Line's Dublin-Holyhead sailings are on schedule in addition to services on the Rosslare-Fishguard, Belfast-Stranraer (incl. HSS sailings) and Belfast-Liverpool. P&O's Dublin-Liverpool and North Channel Larne-Cairnryan route are also on schedule.
On the Celtic Sea, Fastnet Line's Cork-Swansea is unaffected as there are no sailings on Monday's, Tuesday's and Wednesday's during this month and November. The next sailing is this Thursday from Cork at 20.30hrs and returning Swansea on Friday at 21.30hrs.
According to Met Eireann, this afternoon will be extremely windy, especially across the southern half of the country, with southwest gusts of between 90 and 120km/h. For more detailed and updated weather forecasts visit www.met.ie
Apart from the novelty factor of this on board feature the 30,285grt vessels will also the largest ever deployed on any North Channel route. In addition the region will see the opening of the new £80m ferryport of Loch Ryan Port, located close to rivals, P&O (Irish Sea) at their terminal in Cairnryan.
Stena's decision to relocate to Loch Ryan Port which is only eight miles away from its existing Scottish terminal in Stranraer on the shores of Loch Ryan is to reduce passage times, fuel costs and road travel times. The closure of this port will also see the end of HSS fast-craft sailings served by HSS Stena Voyager and conventional vessels Stena Caledonia and Stena Navigator.
The Superfast sisters are on charter for two-years, where they will operated the new 2 hour 15 minute route which is due to be launched on 21 November. They will make 12 crossings per day and each of the ten-deck ships can carry up to 1200 passengers, 660 cars or 110 freight units.
Originally the pair, built in 2001 at the Howaldtswerde Deutsche Werft AG, Kiel for Attica Enterprises, were used by Superfast Ferries on their German (Rostock-Hanko) Finnish route. In 2006 they were sold to Tallink, where they operated on other Scandinavian services.
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.
Stena will lease the ferries for a three year period from Tallink, the Baltic Sea based shipping group. (Click here for photo of Superfast VIII in ice-flow waters). The charter arrangement includes an option to extend for a further year.
The distance between the new ferry terminal named the 'Loch Ryan Port' at Old House Point (which is just north of Cairnryan) is approx. 8kms apart from Stranraer taking the coastal (A77) road along the Loch that leads onto to Glasgow. At Cairnryan, rivals P&O (Irish Sea) who along with predecessing operators have run services on the route to Larne for several decades.
With a speed of 27-knots, passage times on the new Stena Belfast-Cairnryan route will take 2 hours 15 minutes, this compares to the existing time of 2 hours 50 minutes from Stranraer by conventional ferry and 2 hours taken by the HSS fast-ferry.
As a consequence of Stena operating from Loch Ryan Port, passage times by the Superfast sisters will be reduced by 35 minutes as the Belfast terminal was also relocated in recent years. Though despite the relocated ferry terminals, the Superfast sisters scheduled 2 hours 15 minutes sailings from the new port will be slightly longer compared to the HSS Stena Voyager's 2 hour sailing time from Stranraer.
Also serving the Belfast Stranraer route are the conventional ferries, Stena Caledonia (formerly Sealink's St. David built at Harland & Wolff) and Stena Navigator, that served SeaFrance on Dover-Calais sailings as SeaFrance Manet. When the Superfast sisters replace the HSS Stena Explorer and the conventional ferries, perhaps there will be a new a role for the two vessels in replacing expensive to run fast-craft operated elsewhere.
In the meantime the Superfast pair will maintain running on Tallink's 26-hour Helsinki-Rostock until mid-August. The 2001 German will then undergo an extensive refit of passenger facilities and a new freight-only deck will be incorporated to cater for haulage operators increasing use of higher vehicles and double-deck freight units.
The 'Superfast' vessel naming theme derives from the original owners, Greek operator Superfast Ferries, which sold their Scandinavian operations to Tallink in 2006.