Copenhagen-based DFDS plans to add an additional ship to its “Brexit-buster” Ireland to France ferry link. This will take the route to four vessels. The Ro-Ro freighter ARK DANIA is expected to sail from Dunkerque for the first time on April 1.
The Rosslare Europort – Dunkerque route is presently served by the chartered Ro-Pax ferries KERRY, DROTTEN, and VISBY. DFDS has confirmed that the charter of KERRY from Stena RoRo was recently extended by nine months. This means that she will stay within their fleet until the end of the year. VISBY and DROTTEN are both chartered from owners Rederi AB Gotland.
VISBY is understood to be chartered until May, while DROTTEN’s charter is understood to be very short term. At the time of writing, DROTTEN is scheduled to be in Destination Gotland service from April 30. There has been no announcement of a charter extension.
Destination Gotland presently only have two conventional ships in operation. The company requires three conventional ships to service the state contract for their Swedish Mainland to Gotland routes from Easter. Destination Gotland has also expressed an intention to start a new route linking Nynäshamn with Rostock in Germany under the working name Hansalinjen. The Swedish state has pledged funding of SEK74.22m for the new Sweden to Germany link. This is part of a package given to a number of projects aimed at cutting transport emissions.
Speaking to Shippax, Route Director for the Rosslare-Dunkerque service Aiden Coffey said that it was too early to comment on replacement tonnage for VISBY and DROTTEN. According to Coffey, replacement tonnage is “in the hands of the fleet department in Copenhagen”.
ARK DANIA will be the largest ship to date to be deployed on DFDS’s Ireland to France ferry route. With a capacity of 3,000 lane metres, equivalent to around 188 trailers, she has almost 50% more freight capacity that the next biggest capacity ship on the route, KERRY. Unlike the other vessels on the route, ARK DANIA is a Ro-Ro vessel with capacity for just 12 passengers.
Recently, as a result of the arrival of the “mega” Ro-Ro SCANDIA SEAWAYS DFDS undertook a fleet reshuffle. This means that ARK DANIA has been displaced from the Immingham – Esbjerg route and so is now spare.
According to DFDS, the deployment of ARK DANIA will allow more capacity on the other ships to be freed up for accompanied freight. The company told Shippax that at present 65% of the trailers carried on the route are accompanied.
The deployment of a Ro-Ro seems a strong indication that DFDS wishes to build unaccompanied traffic. When the route started the main target appeared to be the accompanied traffic avoiding the U.K. landbridge post-Brexit.
ARK DANIA is one of seven DFDS ships contracted to NATO work for the Danish and German military. Under the contract, these ships can be called up for the transport of military equipment to support NATO and other international military exercises and operations.