Irish Ferries’ flagship ULYSSES to arrive in Belfast tonight (updated)

Summary: Irish Ferries' 50,938gt flagship ULYSSES is currently en-route to Belfast for dry docking following technical problems over the past few days which have severely restricted her sailing speed.
ULYSSES. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
ULYSSES. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

Update 26/6/28 @ 21:25:  ULYSSES is confirmed as expected to anchor at around 22:55, and is currently passing Ballywalter (Ards Peninsula).  At present it is planned that she will enter Belfast Dry Dock on Thursday, however this may be subject to change.  (23:30) ULYSSES arrived at Belfast Anchorage (off Bangor) as expected at 22:57.  She is currently expected to be there until at least Thursday morning.

Irish Ferries’ 50,938gt flagship ULYSSES is currently en-route to Belfast for dry docking following technical problems over the past few days which have severely restricted her sailing speed.  NIFS understands that the 209m long ferry will initially anchor off Bangor while waiting for Belfast Dry Dock to become available, before entering the Harland & Wolff facility Thursday PM (or possibly Friday AM).

ULYSEES on the River Mersey arriving for dry-docking at Cammell-Laird Birkenhead, 4th January 2017. Copyright © Das Boot 160. Flickr.
ULYSEES arriving for dry-docking at Cammell-Laird Birkenhead, 4th January 2017. Copyright © Das Boot 160. Flickr.

At present it appears that ULYSSES will be away from her Dublin to Holyhead route until at least Tuesday, with her smaller operating partner EPSILON covering her schedule and so missing her usual weekend Dublin to Cherbourg round-trip.  There have been suggestions DUBLIN SWIFT may operate an additional round-trip between Dublin and Holyhead to provide additional passenger capacity, though this has not been confirmed.

ULYSEES on the River Mersey arriving for dry-docking at Cammell-Laird Birkenhead, 4th January 2017. Copyright © Das Boot 160
ULYSEES arriving for dry-docking at Cammell-Laird Birkenhead, 4th January 2017. Copyright © Das Boot 160. Flickr.

ULYSSES was built in 2001 in Finland by what was then Aker Finnyards.  She has capacity for over 1800 passengers and 4km of freight vehicles.  When launched she was the largest ferry in the world by car capacity, with the ability to accommodate in excess of 1,340 passenger cars.

Until recently ULYSEES has proved to be an exceptionally reliable vessel, but has suffered from recurring technical issues this year.  Until 2018 it had been normal to dry dock her every year, however this year a decision was taken not to do so.  However, it is far from abnormal not to dry dock vessels every year, with Stena Line and Brittany Ferries for example not doing so on some vessels without any serious issues.  2018 has been a problematic year for Irish Ferries with cancelled sailings due to the delayed delivery of their new ferry W.B. YEATS adding to the technical problems with ULYSSES and some issues with the timekeeping of the recently introduced DUBLIN SWIFT.

Earlier this year it was announced that ULYSSES will be replaced in mid-2020 by an even larger capacity ferry to be built in Germany at a cost of €165.2m.  Once the new vessel is delivered, ULYSSES will become the second ship on her route in place of EPSILON.

NameULYSSES
Launched2001
Gross tonnage50,938t
Vehicle capacity
Trucks / Cars 
241 (max) / 1,342 (max)
Passenger Capacity1,850
Engine output31,200 KW
Usual routeDublin – Holyhead

 

Title image: Irish Ferries’ ULYSSES. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

ULYSSES approaches the entrance to Belfast Dry Dock (BDD) on June 28th 2018. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

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