Stena Line has been forced to amend Irish Sea refit plans following an incident at Fishguard during Storm Franklin.
On the morning of 22 February, the port’s jack-up barge to the quay ended up submerged whilst it was being manoeuvred. Stena Line told the Western Telegraph;
“Stena Line can confirm that a maintenance platform (jack up barge) submerged during Storm Franklin in the early hours of 22 Feb 2022, in Fishguard Port. There were no injuries, and no pollution was caused. A salvage operation is currently under way to recover the barge, which is not affecting the day-to-day operation of the port.”Western Telegraph 25 February 2022 https://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/19953216.stena-confirms-salvage-attempt-storm-franklin-hit-barge
Further images of the submerged jack-up barge can be seen on the Western Telegraph website here.
Impact on Nordica plan
Whilst the route’s STENA EUROPE normally uses the barge to allow a better berth fit, there are extra fenders to allow a “work around”, permitting it to use the ramp without. However, in this situation, the upper level side ramp cannot be used.
The barge is required due to the design of the ramp/linkpsan at Fishguard. Dating from 1972, it was built for much smaller vessels. The jack up rig allows newer ferries with a wider beam to land their bow doors on it. Essentially, it provides a connecting platform to the linkspan.
However, the incident coincided with STENA EUROPE’s planned dry-dock. The ‘Europe had been due to be at A&P Falmouth, 24 February to 6 March. However, this was slightly delayed by a knock-on effect when STENA SUPERFAST VIII couldn’t leave her own docking at Harland and Wolff, Belfast. This was caused by the extreme weather conditions last week.
This in turn prevented STENA EMBLA returning to the Belfast – Birkenhead route and STENA ESTRID returning to Holyhead – Dublin. This delayed releasing the STENA NORDICA for her duties on the – Fishguard – Rosslare service by a few days.
The result was STENA EUROPE’s dry-docking being delayed until 26 February.
Short route suspension
With STENA NORDICA unable to dock at Fishguard, Stena Line reluctantly took the decision to suspend Rosslare sailings. Services were halted after STENA EUROPE’s weather delayed arrival at Rosslare on the evening of 26 February. After unloading, the veteran ferry sailed to Falmouth, arriving in the early hours of Monday 28 February.
The Fishguard – Rosslare route is currently due to resume on 8 March 2022 when STENA EUROPE is back from overhaul.
Alternative plan for Stena Nordica
With the STENA NORDICA on the Irish Sea for overhaul duties but now spare, Stena Line quickly found another use for the ship. Cover on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route.
The vessel will replace SEATRUCK PANORAMA for two roundtrips this week. These are from Rosslare on 28 February and 2 March and from Cherbourg on 1 and 3 March. SEATRUCK PANORAMA had some existing maintenance work planned by owner, Seatruck Ferries. This was brought forward due to the availability of the Nordica.
STENA NORDICA is currently due to return to the Dublin – Holyhead route from the evening sailing from Wales on 5 March. The main refit schedule should then return to plan.
The Stena Line refit period, as happens with the maintenance period for many operators, hasn’t gone totally to plan thanks to very severe weather and berth issues. However, most observers will agree, this is largely down to the operational realities of the ferry business.