A quick roundup of some of the ferry fleet movements which have taken place in the Irish Sea area in recent weeks, including a visit from Condor Ferries’ latest vessel CONDOR ISLANDER.
Ben-My-Chree hands over Isle of Man services to Manxman
BEN-MY-CHREE departed Douglas on the morning of 1 November, arriving Belfast late lunchtime the same day. The vessel is currently at Harland & Wolf’s ship repair quay where it is undergoing some maintenance before lay-up. BEN-MY-CHREE currently has no scheduled sailings on the Steam Packet timetable and appears to be staying in Belfast until at least 1 December at present.
As part of the maintenance being undertaken, most of BEN-MY-CHREE’s liferafts have been removed for servicing. As a consequence the vessel can only operate in freight mode only at present despite remaining fully manned.
The Isle of Man fast-craft MANANNAN is due to remain in Douglas until 18 November. The Incat-built catamaran is to layup in Barrow but will visit Cammell Laird to have her damaged engine removed en route. During her preseason dry dock the repaired engine will be refitted before the vessel returns to service.
Arrow secures another charter
After finishing her charter to Condor Ferries, the Isle of Man Steam Packet RoRo ARROW arrived at her usual layup port of Larne on the afternoon of 23 October. Her stay would be for just over a week however, as the vessel left for Stornoway late on 31 October. The ship has been chartered to cover Caledonian MacBrayne services.
ARROW entered service on 2 November on the Ullapool – Stornoway route, providing freight capacity whilst the normal vessel, LOCH SEAFORTH, refits at Birkenhead. This duty is expected to last at least three weeks.
Seatruck increases capacity using CLdN tonnage
To boost capacity as previously announced, Seatruck has incorporated the Kawasaki-class ship, CELESTINE, from its parent company CLdN into the Liverpool to Dublin roster. This takes the number of vessels on the route to four.
The CELESTINE arrived in Liverpool from Vlissingen on Monday 23 October and entered service the next day. 1996-built CELESTINE has about 2300lm of capacity and previously served on CLdN’s contract route between Ford’s international logistics facility at Vlissingen and Dagenham.
Seatruck’s introduction of the CELESTINE has led to an increase in midweek sailings, going from three sailings per day to four in each direction on certain days. This includes an additional departure from Liverpool from Tuesday to Thursday and an extra departure from Dublin from Wednesday to Friday.
It is anticipated that the vessel will be used for automotive work between Liverpool and Vlissingen when not servicing the Dublin route. Ford has a transmission plant at Halewood near Liverpool which the company projects will supply electric power units to 70% of the company’s electric vehicles sold in Europe and a vehicle storage facility at Speke.
Last month Suardiaz started a dedicated service for Stellantis to transport vehicle parts between their plant at Vigo in Spain and Eastham on the Wirral Peninsula. Stellantis manufactures electric vans at the Vauxhall facility in Ellesmere Port, just a few miles from Eastham.
New Channel Islands ferry Condor Islander visits Merseyside and Fishguard.
Sailings were cancelled from 26 October until 2 November and the vessel sent to Cammell Laird Birkenhead for repairs. Further sailings were cancelled after the ship was delayed in dry dock, only leaving no 7 dock on Thursday 2 November instead of 31 October as originally planned. The ship then went to Liverpool docks for around 24 hours before leaving Merseyside.
After leaving Liverpool, CONDOR ISLANDER proceeded south, but when just past Rosslare took a sudden turn towards Fishguard. The ship arrived off the Welsh coast late on the night of Friday 3 November and berthed at Fishguard at lunchtime the following day.
CONDOR ISLANDER left Fishguard for Portsmouth at around 12:45 on 06 November ahead of a timetabled return to service on the evening of 7 November.
Stena Nordica technical issues
Stena Line’s regular Fishguard to Rosslare ferry, STENA NORDICA was out of service since Monday 30 October until this afternoon with a technical issue. This meant that the berth at Fishguard was free for CONDOR ISLANDER to use during her visit to the port.
STENA NORDICA crossed from Rosslare to Fishguard at reduced speed on the evening of 5 November, leaving the Wexford port at around 18:15. CONDOR ISLANDER, which had been on the berth, moved to anchor just outside the harbour earlier the same afternoon.
With annual overhauls now underway within the Stena fleet the company had not been able to provide a suitable vessel to cover the Fishguard schedule.
STENA NORDICA left Fishguard on 6 November, for around 2 hours of trials at about 17:00. She returned to service this afternoon, 7 November.
Separately, Stena Line has replaced STENA FORETELLER on the Belfast to Birkenhead route with newly acquired STENA FORWARDER. STENA FORETELLER will join the Harwich to Rotterdam Europoort route in place of SOMERSET after dry docking in Rotterdam.
Dublin Swift lays up for winter, Norbay settles into Irish Ferries service
Irish Ferries’ Dublin to Holyhead fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT left Dublin late on 30 October for winter lay-up at Cardiff. The vessel arrived in the Welsh capital the following morning. DUBLIN SWIFT is expected to return to service next Spring, though the exact date is still to be confirmed.
As previously reported, Irish Ferries has taken P&O’s NORBAY on charter as a temporary replacement for EPSILON. This follows P&O Ferries’ decision to reduce capacity on the Liverpool to Dublin route ahead of its planned closure during December. The EPSILON has been recalled by her current owners after a decade on charter to Irish Ferries.
Having already settled into EPSILON’s Dublin to Holyhead schedule, NORBAY’s first trip to France in place of EPSILON is expected to leave Dublin this Friday, 10 November. The P&O vessel, which has been supplied to Irish Ferries with her existing crew, has taken over EPSILON’s normal roster into the new year according to the Irish Ferries booking engine.
In the meantime, EPSILON has released W.B YEATS for overhaul at Harland & Wolff Belfast. The latter ship arrived in Belfast Dry Dock this morning with departure currently expected on 18 November. EPSILON is expected to leave the fleet before the end of the month after W.B YEATS returns to service.