Update @ 10:03: According to a reliable source, EUROPEAN SEAWAY is actually bound for Dunkirk rather than Dover. It is understood that she will be put into warm layup at the French port until required again at Larne in September unless required on the Dover to Calais route in the meantime.
P&O Ferries EUROPEAN SEAWAY left Larne just after midnight last night bound towards the English Channel. The normally Dover-based vessel had been based in Larne since mid-May as dry dock cover for the regular Larne to Cairnryan ferries EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER and EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY. She had been idle at Curran Quay since the return to service of ‘Causeway’ on July 10th, and took on bunkers from the tanker WHITSTAR the same evening.
With EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY widely expected to return to dry dock for completion of this years planned works once the summer peak is over in September, it had been suggested by some that EUROPEAN SEAWAY would remain in warm layup at Larne instead of returning to Dover over summer. EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY had a much shorter dry dock than originally planned due to the delayed return of EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER from dry dock, reportedly due to rudder problems.
This was ‘Seaway’s’ second stint as a Larne to Cairnryan ferry, with her first period on the run during 2017 having been judged a success. In previous years the Dublin to Liverpool stern-only loading freight-orientated Ro-Pax NORBAY was the designated relief vessel at Larne due to berthing constraints, but the redevelopment of the main berth at Cairnryan Harbour during 2013 meant EUROPEAN SEAWAY could be accommodated on the route. At the time of writing ‘Seaway’ is passing between Ireland and Wales.