According to shipping industry publisher Shippax (paywalled), Irish Ferries are to charter Stena RoRo owned STENA FORETELLER early next year. The Ro-Ro vessel, which is currently in service for DFDS, will become surplus to requirements at that operator once new purpose-built tonnage arrives from China. STENA FORETELLER currently serves DFDS’s Immingham – Cuxhaven route, but the arrival of their new 6,695 lane metre Ro-Ro’s from CSI Jinling is allowing DFDS to shuffle their owned tonnage.
Shippax states that STENA FORETELLER will sail on the Dublin – Holyhead route from “early next year” until late April or early May. STENA FORETELLER is a sister to Stena Line’s Belfast – Birkenhead freight ship STENA FORECASTER. Like her sister, she does not carry any passengers apart from commercial drivers. A third sister, STENA FORERUNNER, previously ran on the Belfast – Birkenhead route and also briefly covered the Rosslare – Cherbourg route for Stena Line. The trio form Stena’s “Stena Forerunner Mk II” class built in Dalian, China in the early 2000’s.
At the time of writing, Irish Ferries booking website indicates that ULYSSES will be absent from the Dublin – Holyhead route between 05.01.20 and 14.02.20, with W.B. YEATS providing cover. From 15.02.20 until 23.03.20, ISLE OF INISHMORE is absent from the Rosslare – Pembroke Dock service. Again, W.B. YEATS is providing cover.
Throughout the above period, EPSILON will sail on the Dublin – Holyhead route on weekdays, meaning that there will only be Dublin – Cherbourg passenger sailings during the weekend when EPSILON makes a single round trip. This suggests that STENA FORETELLER could continue the year-round freight service on the Ireland to France route in EPSILON‘s absence.
Weekday passenger volumes on the Ireland – France services tend to be lower during the early months of the year, whilst accompanied freight demand is higher on weekdays on the short-sea Dublin – Holyhead route. With the ability to accommodate 3,000 lane metres of freight, STENA FORETELLER will be the second largest vessel in the Irish Ferries fleet in terms of freight capacity. The DUBLIN SWIFT fast-craft is currently scheduled to return to the Holyhead service on April 2.
As ever, the above dates and vessel allocations are subject to change.