Update 14.05.19: In recent days EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR has moved the short distance from Gladstone Dock to Royal Seaforth Dock ahead of the handover to her new owners and subsequent move to the Baltic Sea.
Update 07.05.19 @ 07:30: Swedish maritime website www.sjofartstidningen.se (in Swedish) has quoted Eckero CEO Björn Blomqvist as saying EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR will enter service without ice class but that she will be upgraded to fulfil the requirements at a later date.
Åland-based shipping company Rederi Ab Eckerö have this morning confirmed (in Finnish) that they have signed a letter of intent to acquire a new vessel from P&O Ferries. Rederi Ab Eckerö will charter the vessel, currently P&O Ferries EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR, to subsidiary Eckerö Line Ab Oy for a new Eckerö Line freight-orientated service linking Helsinki and Tallinn commencing in June. Unlike Eckerö Line’s current vessel FINLANDIA, she will berth at Vuosaari on the outskirts of Helsinki. Vuosaari is better connected to the national road network than Jätkäsaari which is currently used by Eckerö Line and direct competitor Tallink. Eckerö Line says the new service will help remove freight transiting to Estonia from the city centre and thus relieve congestion. While no new name has yet been announced, Eckerö has confirmed that like FINLANDIA, EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR will fly the Finnish flag. The new service is expected to create around 80 new jobs in both Finland and Estonia and will offer two round-trips per day. The crossing time of three hours is slower than the two and fifteen minutes offered by FINLANDIA, two hours of the Tallink passenger vessels STAR and MEGASTAR, and two hours thirty minutes offered by VIKING LINE. It is, however, quicker than the three and a half hours offered by Tallink’s competing freight service from Vuosaari to Muuga which is about 13km outside Tallinn.
EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR will join the new service following another dry-docking at an as yet undisclosed shipyard, with an increased capacity of 366 passengers. Last Thursday the vessel left dry-dock at Cammell Laird for what looks to have been her last shipyard visit as a P&O Ferries vessel. Taru Keronen, Managing Director of Eckerö Line, says he believes in the strong growth of the Helsinki – Tallinn route.
(Translated from Finnish) “We see great potential on the route, and we want to be involved in its development. Our cargo figures have been growing well in recent years, and more and more passengers are taking the car while traveling to Estonia. We are now introducing a completely new solution to the route, which will accelerate the shift to Vuosaari for heavy traffic and create a new alternative for cargo and car travel, ”says Keronen.
As previously reported, the Ro-Ro vessel MISTRAL has already replaced EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR on P&O Ferries Dublin to Liverpool route. P&O Ferries had told Freightlink on May 2nd that ‘Endeavour’ had been sold to Eckerö, only for Eckerö’s CEO to tell a local publication later in the same day that the deal wasn’t agreed but that they were interested in the vessel.