This weeks "Blast from the Past" takes us back to 1995, and a couple of articles in the Belfast Telegraph about a temporary visitor to our waters. The first article is about an unusual menu option on the 'Stena Sealink Line' Larne - Stranraer refit relief vessel NORRONA. Readers are told that amongst other delicacies on the menu is puffin breast in a creamy sauce with redcurrant jelly! All is not as it seems however, as usual fare for the North Channel such as Fish & Chips and the traditional Ulster fry is still available even though it is not on the menu. NORRONA was on the route for around 3 months while STENA ANTRIM was off the route providing cover for refits at Holyhead, Rosslare, and Newhaven as well as at Larne.
Despite her short stint in our waters, this was not the only time NORRONA appeared in the Belfast Telegraph however. Being built for a totally different type of route she proved less than ideal for the Larne to Stranraer run. She was reportedly slower than the regular vessels, and also had poor freight capacity.
Perhaps worst of all though, due to her single bow thruster the currents in Loch Ryan proved particularly troublesome for her when manoeuvring. As a result, one crossing in particular reportedly took over 15 hours due to difficulty safely berthing in Stranraer!