Irish Ferries ULYSSES is to remain in dry dock at Belfast for up to two further weeks. The Irish Ferries flagship arrived in Belfast Dry Dock on the 28th of June for what NIFS understands was a replacement of her starboard propeller shaft. However, it appears further problems have arisen meaning that ULYSSES will be out of service for much longer than originally anticipated. NIFS previously reported that ULYSSES departure from dry-dock had appeared to have been postponed after she had failed to leave when expected.
Her absence comes as the summer holiday season gets underway and has also had an impact on freight movements on the central corridor, with a backlog of freight on the Dublin to Holyhead route due to the loss of ULYSSES' huge freight capacity. Irish Ferries intend to operate an additional sailing with their fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT to help provide additional capacity. All sailings of EPSILON have been cancelled so she can cover ULYSSES' schedule, however she is a smaller vessel with less passenger and vehicle capacity than that she replaces. This also means that the capacity normally provided by EPSILON in addition to ULYSSES has been lost. Stena Line meanwhile are understood to be taking as much additional traffic as possible on their ships STENA ADVENTURER and STENA SUPERFAST X.
This latest disruption to Irish Ferries services comes following the cancellation of all sailings of the new RoPax W.B. YEATS, which had been expected to enter service later this week. Delays at the yard mean her first sailing has been postponed, likely until September, affecting the travel plans of some 20,000 people. Meanwhile Irish Ferries are also receiving criticism (external link) for withdrawing their summer service between Rosslare and France from September.
The following is a press release from Irish Ferries parent company, Irish Continental Group (ICG), published this morning:
ICG announces that the Ulysses, operated by ICG’s subsidiary Irish Ferries on the Dublin / Holyhead route, reported technical difficulties with its Starboard Controllable Pitch Propeller on the 24th June. The vessel entered drydock in Belfast on the 28th June. The investigation and repairs to the vessel were expected to take no longer than 5 days allowing her to resume service on the 4thJuly. We have now been informed by service engineers that the issue is more serious than originally anticipated and they expect the vessel will be out of service for a further period of 1 to 2 weeks.
In advance of her return to service, we will adjust the schedules of our other vessels to minimise the disruption to our customers as much as possible. The Dublin / Holyhead route will operate with the Epsilon on the Ulysses schedule alongside the Dublin Swift which will operate additional evening sailings.
Irish Ferries would like to apologise to all our passenger and freight customers for this technical disruption. Despite our best efforts we can find no replacement tonnage in what is now the peak tourism season. It is the first major disruption on the Ulysses since her deployment on the Dublin Holyhead service in 2001.