The former Belfast – Liverpool ferry STENA LAGAN left Liverpool this afternoon for what is the last time. The Visentini-built Ro-Pax, which to-date has only served the Birkenhead – Belfast route route since delivered new in 2005 (apart from a brief spell on Birkenhead – Dublin), left Merseyside for the SEDEF shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey. STENA LAGAN was replaced on the Belfast – Liverpool (Birkenhead) route last week by the brand-new STENA EDDA. With the new ship in service, STENA LAGAN moved to Gladstone Dock in Liverpool where final preparations were made for the journey.
Once she arrives in Turkey, STENA LAGAN is to be extended by just over 36m to 222.6m in length. This will be achieved by cutting the vessel in two and inserting a completely new section. This is a relatively common practice of which Stena were one of the pioneers in the ferry industry. The group still hold the record for the longest ever lengthening of a car and passenger ferry – the former STENA HOLLANDICA (now STENA GERMANICA) which was lengthened by 52m in 2007. This will not be the first time STENA LAGAN has been split in two parts. Like all Visentini Ro-pax vessels, she was actually launched in two pieces and joined together in Visentini’s building dock. As with STENA HOLLANDICA, the conversion will be overseen by Stena RoRo.
The lengthening project will see ‘Lagan’s’ freight intake increase from about 2,200 to 2,875 lane metres. In addition, 280 cars will be able to be carried on separate decks instead of the 170 at present. This is similar to STENA EDDA and her E-Flexer sisters which can accommodate 3,100 lane metres of freight and 120 cars in their own dedicated garage. The ‘new’ STENA LAGAN, which is expected to be renamed, will accommodate 970 passengers and have 194 cabins – an increase from the current 120. She will also be converted from a stern-only loading vessel to double-deck-drive-through operation. Stena Line have not yet stated which route the rebuilt vessel will serve on, but informed speculation suggests this will be a route within Stena Line’s Baltic network. It is understood that there are no plans for the ship to return to Belfast or Birkenhead.
Sister-ship STENA MERSEY is expected to follow STENA LAGAN to Turkey at the end of the summer season for the same work to be carried out. Her place on the route opposite STENA EDDA will be taken by a ship from elsewhere in the Stena fleet. A sister to STENA EDDA, STENA EMBLA, is expected to be delivered for the route towards the end of the year for entry into service next January. It is not known, however, if this may be delayed due to the Corona Virus outbreak. While many of the cases of the virus in China have been limited to Wuhan province (the shipyard is in Shandong province), the country is “locked down’ while many of the components and some personnel involved in the build come from Europe.
With thanks to Rob Foy and David Færder