China’s China Merchants Jinling Shipyard (Weihai) has announced that steel cutting for hull W0279 commenced on 16 May. The ship, ordered by Stena RoRo for charter to Marine Atlantic, will be the 10th in the Stena E-Flexer series.
The order of the dual-fuel battery hybrid ferry was confirmed last July by Marine Atlantic. Although the company has not confirmed which ship the new ferry will replace in its fleet, it is likely this will be either the chartered ATLANTIC VISION or older and smaller LEIF ERICSON.
Stena and its partners specifically developed a 202.9m long version of the E-Flexer for Marine Atlantic to maximise usable capacity while fitting within the constraints of both Port aux Basques and Argentia. The ship will be the first of the E-Flexer series to have battery hybrid technology. Two further dual-fuel battery hybrid versions have also been ordered by Brittany Ferries, though these will be slightly shorter at 194.7m in length.
The as-yet unnamed new Marine Atlantic E-Flexer ferry will have capacity for around 1,000 passengers. 146 passenger cabins will be available, including pet friendly cabins, as well as 40 sleeping pods and 486 reclining seats. Passengers will be able to choose from a variety of dining options and lounge areas. There will be 2,571 lane metres of vehicle capacity including 476 lane metres for private cars.
As with STENA EMBLA, the Marine Atlantic E-Flexer will be built to Ice Class 1A standards. Twin Wärtsilä main engines will propel the ship at up to 23 knots in service, running on either gas or fuel oil.
Marine Atlantic will initially charter the new ship for five years after which the company can purchase the vessel outright should it wish. Construction is expected to take 18 months with delivery in early-2024. Although based on an existing design, the new Marine Atlantic ferry will be built to the latest standards. This includes DNV-GL’s DAT-B (Design Ambient Temperature) and Winterized notations, both of which are specifically for ships which operate in cold climates outside polar waters.
Marine Atlantic has a fleet procurement relationship with Stena going back decades. Three of the company’s current fleet of four vessels were acquired through Stena.