The past ten days have seen a significant amount of movements for the Irish Sea ferry fleet.
Seatruck Panorama returned to owners
On completion of her charter to Stena Line, SEATRUCK PANORAMA returned to her owners, Seatruck Ferries, on Sunday 3 September. While in service for Stena Line, she operated on Belfast – Heysham and Belfast – Birkenhead but, more recently, had primarily operated as the second vessel on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route alongside, STENA HORIZON. She was replaced by the ‘cruise ferry’ STENA VISION on 30 June.
SEATRUCK PANORAMA then provided refit cover on the Belfast – Heysham route for Stena Line before returning to Seatruck. She moved from Belfast to Dublin to take over the Heysham service from Monday 4 September.
Heysham pair complete refits
From early July, SEATRUCK PANORAMA was employed on the Belfast – Heysham Irish Sea ferry route, initially in place of STENA SCOTIA which dry-docked at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. STENA SCOTIA was subject to a technical problem upon emerging from refit on Tuesday 1 August and returned to Birkenhead for further attention. She did not re-enter service until Sunday 13 August. This then allowed STENA HIBERNIA to proceed for her own dry-docking.
Due to the delay with the ‘Scotia and the knock-on effect with the second ship’s refit, the Belfast – Heysham route was left in the hands of just STENA SCOTIA, following SEATRUCK PANORAMA’s return to her owners, from 3 September until the STENA HIBERNIA re-entered service on the Irish Sea ferry route on the morning of Thursday 7 September.
Seatruck to Santander
Upon the return of SEATRUCK PANORAMA from her charter to Stena Line, she released the SEATRUCK PACE from the Dublin – Heysham route. After a sailing to Liverpool on 3 September and a trip back to Dublin on 5 September, SEATRUCK PACE then undertook a sailing Dublin to Santander on Wednesday 6 September. The vessel appears to remain engaged on this route for now for CLdN. This isn’t surprising as CLdN owns Irish Sea ferry operator Seatruck.
Stena Line shuffles Irish Sea ferry fleet
Following a small fire in her emergency generator on Wednesday 19 July, STENA SUPERFAST VII was out of service alongside the ship repair quay at Harland & Wolff for a few days. During her absence from the Belfast – Cairnryan route, the STENA NORDICA was called in to substitute. This led to the suspension of the Fishguard – Rosslare service. STENA SUPERFAST VII was still suffering technical problems in the weeks following her re-entry into service. This was particularly affecting her ability to manoeuvre into and out of port, often requiring the assistance of a tug.
With the busy summer season over for the Irish Sea ferry fleet, in order to facilitate repair work and return STENA SUPERFAST VII to full power, Stena Line initiated a fleet shuffle in the week commencing Monday 4 September.
STENA HORIZON’s sailings between Rosslare and Cherbourg were suspended following her arrival at the Irish port that morning. She proceeded to Holyhead, taking up service with the 2030hrs departure to Dublin in place of STENA ESTRID. This left the French route in the hands of just STENA VISION, with STENA FORETELLER moving from Belfast to undertake a single round trip for freight, departing Rosslare on Saturday 9 and returning from Cherbourg on Sunday 10 September. STENA FORETELLER’s sailing ex Birkenhead on 9 September and ex Belfast on 11 September were cancelled to facilitate the French trip.
STENA ESTRID moved to Loch Ryan Port to take over from STENA SUPERFAST VII’s sailings from 0300hrs on Tuesday 5 September. STENA SUPERFAST VII and STENA SUPERFAST VIII had swapped places on Sunday 3 September with an additional 0330hrs sailing in each direction. In effect, therefore, STENA ESTRID has been operating on STENA SUPERFAST VIII’s schedule.
STENA SUPERFAST VII resumed service with the 1530hrs sailing from Cairnryan on Sunday 10 September, enabling STENA ESTRID to return to Holyhead and relieve STENA HORIZON with the 0900hrs sailing on Monday 11 September. STENA HORIZON will leave Rosslare for Cherbourg, as scheduled on Tuesday 12 September at 2100hrs.
DFDS ship swap
The REGINA SEAWAYS was damaged on a stormy crossing between Rosslare and Dunkerque on 18 August, resulting in emergency repairs from 23 August. Pending a longer dry-docking, REGINA SEAWAYS has now been moved to the Klaipeda – Karlshamn route. She has replaced the AURA SEAWAYS which in turn has replaced the ATHENA SEAWAYS on the Klaipeda – Kiel service. This has allowed DFDS to move the ATHENA SEAWAYS to operate alongside OPTIMA SEAWAYS at Rosslare, restoring a two-ship service.
ATHENA SEAWAYS made her first crossing from Dunkerque to Rosslare on Friday 8 September, arriving at the Wexford Irish Sea ferry port around 2000hrs the following day.
Arrow to cover for Condor pair
The Isle of Man Steam Packet’s RoRo vessel, ARROW emerged from refit at Cammell Laird’s Birkenhead yard on Monday 4 September.
She had been expected to provide cover for Condor Ferries’ COMMODORE CLIPPER and then COMMODORE GOODWILL from Wednesday 13 September while both ships undergo scheduled maintenance. However, at the time of writing there is some uncertainty over this timing, with the Jersey Evening Post reporting that there had been a “late issue with the availability” of the Irish Sea ferry.