Connemara leaves Europe for New Zealand
Bluebridge’s latest acquisition Connemara is on her way to New Zealand. The ship was sold to the company in October and delivered during November when the vessel was dry docked in Dunkirk. During the dry docking, the vessel was completely rebranded, a silicone anti-fouling paint was applied to the hull, and her flag was changed to the Bahamas. An interior refit will take place when the ship is in New Zealand waters.
CONNEMARA left Dunkirk on 16 December for Antwerp where she arrived the following day. She then sailed for Southampton, arriving on 21 December. On Friday 23 December she left the Solent for the Panama Canal.
After transiting the Panama Canal, CONNEMARA will cross the Pacific Ocean before arriving at her new home in New Zealand. She will operate opposite STRAIT FERONIA, another Visentini Ro-Pax ferry which was also previously owned by Stena RoRo.
CONNEMARA was previously chartered to Brittany Ferries, but the arrival of SALAMANCA earlier this year and the introduction of SANTONA next year meant that she was no longer required by the French company.
Corsica Linea receives first new-build
The first of a new generation of Visentini Ro-Pax ferries, A GALEOTTA, was delivered to Corsica Linea on 6 December. As with the previous generations of Visentini Ro-Pax, A GALEOTTA was designed by NAOS Ship and Boat Design. While A GALEOTTA shares a similar profile to some of the previous Ro-Pax ferries built by Visentini, the design is all-new and complies with the latest legislation for new ferries.
A GALEOTTA is Corsica Linea’s first new-build ferry and is expected to join the Marseille – Bastia/Ajaccio route. Her first commercial sailing is currently scheduled for 8 January between Marseille and Ajaccio.
Honfleur still looking for an operator?
The cancelled Brittany Ferries ship HONFLEUR still appears to be searching for an operator, more than three years after her original planned delivery date. HONFLEUR was originally to be delivered by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschat (FSG), but following that yard’s bankruptcy the partially complete ship was purchased by SIEM and towed to Norway for completion.
Towards the end of May HONFLEUR sailed to Gdynia under her own power. She was tied up there until she was dry-docked earlier in December. HONFLEUR appears to be already fitted out, with a number of photographs posted to outfitter AROS Marine’s website months ago. However, there does not appear to be any solid interest in the vessel with brokers continuing to circulate the vessel for sale.
Blue Star 1 to leave Irish Ferries in 2023?
Irish Ferries’ Rosslare – Pembroke Dock vessel BLUE STAR 1 may return to Greece during 2023. The Ro-Pax ferry has been on charter from Attica Group since April 2021. She replaced ISLE OF INISHMORE on the route which was redeployed on the then new Dover – Calais service.
It is not yet confirmed if / when BLUE STAR 1 will return to Greece or what Irish Ferries intends to replace her with. Another of Irish Ferries’ fleet, EPSILON, is also due to be returned to her owner during 2023 so that she can enter service for Unity Line between Poland and Sweden.
New Dover – Calais ferry nears delivery
Delivery of the world’s largest double-ended ferry, P&O PIONEER, is expected to take place next month. She is the first of two firm orders to be delivered from P&O Ferries Dover – Calais “ship of the future” project by Guangzhou Shipyard International. The 230m long vessel, which has been designed to improve turnaround times by removing the requirement to turn in port, has had at least two sets of sea trials already.
P&O PIONEER is expected to enter service during spring 2023, becoming the largest ferry ever to serve the Dover – Calais service. Sister-ship P&O LIBERTE is expected to follow around 6 months later. At the time of ordering P&O Ferries also had options for two further vessels of the same design, which is highly tailored to the Dover – Calais route.
Construction starts on second new Tasmanian ferry
Steel cutting for the second of two new ferries for TT-Line Tasmania, SPIRIT OF TASMANIA V, took place on 20 December. The keel for sister-ship SPIRIT OF TASMANIA IV was laid on 26 October. Both ships are scheduled to be delivered during 2024.
Shipyard Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC), which earlier this month delivered MYSTAR to Tallink late (see below), is known to be having financial issues. Reportedly some suppliers are no longer interested in working with the shipyard and others have increased their prices due to a perceived increased risk of working with the shipyard.
RMC won the Tasmanian order after a contract with first-choice shipyard Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschat (FSG) was cancelled following severe financial problems at the shipyard. As part of the contract with RMC a significant amount of content will be provided by Tasmanian suppliers.
Viking Line sells veteran ferry for further service
Viking Line has agreed to sell 1980-built ROSELLA to Aegean Sealines Maritime Co (Aegean Speed Lines) for €11.25m. Until now, ROSELLA has spent her entire career in the Viking Line fleet. Delivery to Aegean Speed Lines will take place during the second half of January 2023. As a result of the sale, which Viking Line says is part of its modernisation strategy, Viking’s Kapellskär–Mariehamn route will close on 8 January 2023.
Competitor Eckerö Linjen has increased sailings on its Grisslehamn – Eckerö service in response. Last month Viking Line acquired a 17.1% stake in Eckerö’s parent company Rederiaktiebolaget Eckerö (Rederi AB Eckerö), and has been making offers to other shareholders since. However, given the fragmented shareholding and limited interest so far in selling to Viking, any acquisition of a controlling stake in Rederiaktiebolaget Eckerö is likely to take a prolonged time.
Peter Pan renamed ahead of new ferry arrival
TT-Line’s Peter Pan arrived for dry docking at Klaipeda on 18 December. When she returns to service in January she will have been renamed TINKER BELL. This is to release her name for TT-Line’s second “Greenship”, which is currently en-route to Europe. The new PETER PAN was delivered on 28 November by China Merchants Jinling (Nanjing). She is a sister-ship to the NILS HOLGERSSON, delivered earlier in 2022.
CMAL chooses Turkey for more CalMac ferries
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) has announced that Turkish shipyard Cemre Marin Endustri AS has been selected as the preferred bidder for two new ferries to serve the Scottish Western Isles of Harris and North Uist. The ships will be built to the same design as the two new ferries for Islay which are already under construction at the same shipyard.
While the decision to build another two ships in Turkey has drawn criticism from local politicians who felt the contract should have gone to a Scottish yard, it is understood that no Scottish shipyard bid for the contract. State-controlled shipyard Ferguson Marine (FMEL) failed to even make the shortlist for the earlier Islay contract, and continues to struggle to complete two ferries it was awarded a contract for in 2015, four years after the original delivery date. The second of these delayed ships was also intended to serve Harris and North Uist though other options are now being considered for this vessel.
Construction starts on first GNV Chinese new-build
Guangzhou Shipbuilding International cut the first steel for the first of MSC’s new Ro-Pax ferries on 26 November. The 218m long ships will be operated by MSC subsidiary GNV and have capacity for 1,500 passengers and 3,100lm of vehicles.
Color Line agrees to sell Color Viking following route closure
COLOR LINE has agreed to sell its veteran Ro-Pax COLOR VIKING to Seajets. COLOR VIKING was originally completed as PEDER PAARS in 1985 for the ferry division of Danish State Railways. In 1991 she was rebuilt in Germany. Renamed STENA INVICTA, she was put into service on Sealink Stena Line’s Dover – Calais route. She would also see spells on Stena Line’s Holyhead – Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare routes as well as a brief charter to Silja Line. In 2000, STENA INVICTA was sold to Color Line and renamed COLOR VIKING following another rebuild in Norway. Stena Line’s STENA NAUTICA was the as-built sister to COLOR VIKING, though both vessels have been heavily modified since they were originally completed.
Despite the above sale reports, COLOR VIKING has returned to lay-up at Sandefjord following drydocking at Odense, raising some doubts about whether the transaction will materialise. COLOR VIKING’s slow speed and limited vehicle capacity makes her unsuitable for many Greek coastal routes.
Last month Color Line announced that it was closing the Sandejford – Strömstad route COLOR VIKING served. Among the reasons given by the company for the closure was increased energy prices and a proposal to halve the tobacco quota for residents of Norway.
MYSTAR enters service
Tallink’s new flagship MYSTAR finally entered service on 13 December after lengthy delivery delays. The LNG-powered ship, which is an updated version of operating partner MEGASTAR, had originally been expected to be in service for June (having initially been due at the start of 2022) but wasn’t formally handed over to Tallink until 7 December.
Her first sea trials took place on 14 September. We hope to publish a special feature on MYSTAR before spring, but in the meantime our friends at Ulkomatala have published some onboard pictures from MYSTAR here.