Irish Ferries new-build for the Dublin to Holyhead route, presently known by her yard number FSG 777, is the second of two vessels ordered by Irish Continental Group (ICG) from Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in Germany. She is the larger of the two vessels, both in terms of physical dimensions and vehicle capacity. The first vessel of the pair was W.B. YEATS which was delivered to ICG at the end of 2018. FSG 777 is still undergoing design work ahead of the start of her construction, and so the items described in this article may change as adjustments are made. The design appears to be an enlarged version of W.B. YEATS, but with the removal of an entire cabin deck and changes to the interior to reflect the shorter crossing time of the Dublin to Holyhead route. Instead of cabins on Deck 8, this space is given over to making Deck 7 a full-height freight deck This, however, means that the newer vessel, unlike W.B. YEATS, has no dedicated car deck.
Irish Ferries intend to deploy FSG 777 on the Dublin to Holyhead route. As a result the chartered Ro-Pax EPSILON will be returned to her owners Caronte & Tourist, and W.B. YEATS will move to the Dublin to Cherbourg route full time.
Main Differences with W.B Yeats
FSG 777 was ordered in early-January 2018 specifically for the Dublin to Holyhead route. Unlike the earlier W.B. YEATS (which was ordered with the overnight Ireland to France service in mind) she does not require extensive cabin accommodation. She does, however, have four full freight decks and a small outside freight deck making her the largest Ro-Pax in the world by freight intake. This means that she could be able to accommodate 5,615 lane metres of freight – around double the amount W.B. YEATS can carry on her three freight decks.
Longer and Heavier
This increase is achieved partially by stowing vehicles higher up on the vessel (a trick borrowed from the design of ULYSSES) and replacing the car deck on ‘Yeats’ with a freight deck. Additionally the length of the vessel is increased to 226m from the 198.4m of W.B. YEATS. Gross tonnage leaps from 51,388 to around 67,000 gt. Likewise the deadweight of the new vessel jumps to about 12,000t from the 7,859 of the earlier vessel. The new ship has the largest dimensions currently possible to be constructed at FSG’s covered slipway.
In order to achieve the required turnaround times in port while using all vehicle decks, an additional linkspan could need to be built at Dublin. This would allow the uppermost freight deck (Deck 7) to load and unload via its own dedicated linkspan. This linkspan would land a ramp on the foreword starboard quarter of the vessel where the vehicle deck can be accessed via a hinged door on the superstructure. This new linkspan would be used in addition to the existing twin tier linkspan at Dublin Port currently used by ULYSEES and W.B.YEATS. There have been suggestions, however, that this plan has been shelved and that the vessel could use internal ramps instead – a potential issue due to the narrower opening at the bow compared to the stern. At Holyhead, Deck 7 would be accessed using a fixed ramp aft on the starboard side of Deck 5, taking full advantage of the wider access at the stern of the vessel compared to the bow. A small additional freight deck is to be provided aft of the passenger accommodation on Deck 9 for vehicles requiring stowage on an open deck. Again this would be accessed via fixed ramps though in this case there is one on both the port and starboard sides to avoid vehicles having to reverse down a ramp where possible.
No Dedicated Car Deck
Cars will be accommodated on Deck 5 and Deck 6, the latter formed by deploying hoistable panels accessed from Deck 5. With the panels deployed this area can accommodate 100 cars on each level. Cars may also be carried on the other vehicle decks should demand require this. There is no dedicated car deck on the design of FSG 777 apart from the aforementioned mezzanine formed by deploying the plates on Deck 5.
Importantly, there is a significant change in the machinery installation from the earlier vessel. The new ship would be significantly longer and heavier than W.B. YEATS, and as a consequence larger main engines have been specified. These are four Wärtsilä 8,400kW medium-speed Diesel engines in lieu of the four Caterpillar MaK units used on W.B. YEATS. In addition, the new ship has three bow thrusters and one stern thruster plus two high-lift flap rudders. W.B. YEATS, on the other hand, was specified with three less powerful bow thrusters, no stern thruster, and rudders with a range of only 45 degrees either way. Wärtsilä has also been selected to supply the exhaust gas scrubber system. On W.B. YEATS the scrubbers were supplied by Alfa Laval.
Similarities with W.B. Yeats
FSG 777 is designed to have a similar passenger capacity to W.B. YEATS at around 1,800 persons. The passenger accommodation layout is understood to be similar, with some adjustments made to take account of the shorter crossing time that the new vessel is designed for. The most obvious change is that the full-height vehicle deck on Deck 7 will occupy the space taken up the cabin deck (Deck 8) on the earlier vessel. The lowest passenger deck therefore is Deck 9, which like on W.B. YEATS will be the ‘Bridge Deck’ and will house cabin accommodation. As mentioned above there will be a small freight deck immediately aft of the accommodation on Deck 9.
The configuration of Deck’s 10 and 11 described in Shippax Designs 18 appears to closely mirror those of W.B. YEATS, with Club Class forward on Deck 10 then a Freight Drivers Restaurant (with lounge above) and and a-la-carte restaurant behind. Moving back, a large restaurant space dominates the deck with Cinemas and a Quiet Lounge behind. The restaurants and Club Class are again served by a single galley which is surrounded by these outlets. Like on W.B. YEATS a bar/lounge space is located forward on Deck 11 with a shop and outside deck access midships. The Interior design is again expected to be led by Camilla Horn of OSK-Shiptech and its subsidiary Steen Friis Design. This continues a relationship between ICG and the Horn family that dates right back to the creation of Irish Continental Line in the early 1970’s. Like with W.B. YEATS the ship is designed with easily closing off public spaces in mind should demand be low.
The hull design for FSG 777 is essentially a lengthened version of that used W.B. YEATS with some adjustments made, for example, to incorporate the different machinery package. This design is itself derived from the highly successful series of Ro-Ro vessels built by FSG and is said to be highly efficient. This approach of basing the hull form of multiple vessels on a common design is common practice in the shipbuilding industry and helps keep costs down.
When the order for FSG 777 was announced, ICG stated that the new vessel would be delivered during May 2020. Subsequently this date has changed to “late” 2020. At the time of writing (August 2019) construction does not appear to have yet started on FSG 777, with neither FSG or Irish Continental Group having made any announcement to that effect. As with W.B. YEATS, Brittany Ferries HONFLEUR, and a long running series of Ro-Ro vessels, it is expected that the superstructure for FSG 777 will be constructed and partially fitted out by Marine Projects and their sub-contractors in Poland. On completion these sections would be towed on barges to Flensburg when they would be united with the FSG-built hull to which they would be welded. This is an arrangement that has worked well in the past but seems to have contributed to the issues with the delivery of W.B. YEATS.
Could the Project be Moved to Another Yard or Cancelled?
Following the significant delays with delivering W.B. YEATS and the subsequent severe financial difficulties and further delivery delays faced at the shipyard (such as that to Brittany Ferries HONFLEUR), there have been unconfirmed reports that ICG have been investigating the possibility of building their next vessel at other shipyards. During 2018, FSG made a net loss of some €111m on revenue of €213m. Only two specific alternative yards have been named so far, CSC Jinling and AVIC Weihai. Neither FSG or ICG have stated that the next new build could be delivered by anywhere other than by FSG, despite the rumours and speculation to the contrary.
The following technical specification is still subject to change as the vessel is still undergoing design changes prior to its construction
|Owner||Irish Continental Group Plc|
|Manager||Matrix Ship Management Ltd.|
|Design / Marine Architect||Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Flensburg, Germany|
Consultant Architect (for ICG)
|OSK ShipTech, Denmark|
(Hull and Assembly)
|Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Flensburg, Germany|
|Marine Projects Ltd Sp. z.o.o., Gdańsk, Poland|
|EPCI (Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Installation of Maritime Technology)||TBC|
OSK Shiptech A/S (Denmark) / Steen Friis Design A/S (Denmark)
OSK Shiptech A/S (Denmark) / Steen Friis Design A/S (Denmark)
|Interior Outfitting (Public Spaces)||TBC|
|Yard Number||FSG 777|
|Classification and notations||DNV-GL|
|Contract Price||€165.2m (including scrubbers)|
|Superstructure sections lifted into place |
(at FSG, Flensburg)
|Delivery||Expected “late” 2020|
|In Service (route)||TBC |
(Dublin – Holyhead)
|Length between Perpendiculars||TBC|
|Gross Tonnage||67,300gt (approx)|
|Total number of decks||12|
|Number of Passenger Decks||3 (Decks 9, 10, 11)|
|Design Speed||22.8 knots|
147 x four-berth cabins
4 x deluxe cabins
2 x disabled cabins
|Vehicle Capacity||5, 615 lane metres of freight (approx. 300 units), or 1,525 cars, or a combination of both|
Twin-level drive-through loading configuration with bow and stern doors, and internal ramps. Three level simultaneous bow loading with the use of a dedicated linkspan to Deck 7 forward.
Vehicles are stowed on Deck 1, Deck 3, Deck 5, Deck 7, and a small outside deck aft on Deck 9. In addition plates can be deployed on Deck 7 to form Deck 8 to stow an additional 100 cars with 100 cars stowed in the same space below.
A range of passenger cabin accommodation.
Confirmed facilities are listed below but may be subject to change and/or additions:
|Flag (Home Port)||Cyprus (Limassol)|
|Notes||Further information, including the capacity of passenger spaces, can be found in the publication Shippax Designs 18.|
References and Further Reading
- Holthof, Philippe (Ed.) (2019). “The Five Decker Flensburger”. Shippax Designs 18
- Irish Continental Group Interim Management Report for Half Year Ending June 30th 2019
- Ropax Fähre 777 Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft
- ‘Irish Continental Group Half Year Results Presentation 29th August 2019 Irish Continental Group
- Irish Continental Group Results Presentation 2018 Irish Continental Group
- “Increasing ferry capacity on the Irish Sea” Interview with Andrew Sheen in Cruise and Ferry review
- “Steen Friis Design behind interior design package on Irish Ferries’ new cruise ferry from FSG” OSK-Shiptech A/S
- Irish Continental Group plc invests €165.2 million to build a new cruise ferry for Dublin – Holyhead route Irish Continental Group