Keel laid for new Dover – Calais Ferry. New Holyhead Ship Undertaking Sea Trials

The first keel block of E-Flexer number 5, DFDS' CÔTE D'OPALE is laid at Weihai Shipyard in China, 15.10.19. DFDS
The first keel block of E-Flexer number 5, DFDS' CÔTE D'OPALE is laid at Weihai Shipyard in China, 15.10.19. DFDS

Delivery of new Holyhead to Dublin ferry Stena Estrid Could take place within “weeks”

DFDS has announced that the keel laying for their new Dover to Calais ferry CÔTE D’OPALE took place on Tuesday, 15.10.19. The ship, which is the fifth of nine Stena E-Flexer ferries currently on order, is expected to be delivered in June 2021. As with the other E-Flexers, CÔTE D’OPALE is being built at Weihai Shipyard in China for Stena RoRo. DFDS have agreed to charter her from Stena RoRo for 10 years from her delivery.

A special ceremony at the shipyard was attended by representatives of Stena RoRo, DFDS, the shipyard itself, and yard owners China Merchants Industry. CÔTE D’OPALE will be a unique vessel designed specifically for the short Dover Strait crossing. At 214m long, she will be the longest ferry operating on the Dover to Calais route when she is delivered in 2021. Competitor P&O Ferries recently announced that they had placed an order for their own new ferries for the route.

An artists impression of how COTE D'OPALE will look when in service with DFDS. DFDS
An artists impression of how COTE D’OPALE will look when in service with DFDS. DFDS

Stena Estrid To Leave for Europe Soon

The first vessel in the E-Flexer series, STENA ESTRID, has been undertaking further sea trials off the Chinese coast. According to a video posted Twitter by Stena Line, her delivery is just “weeks” away.

Information posted elsewhere online suggests Stena RoRo could take delivery of the new ship around mid-to-late-November if all trials are successful. Following delivery at the yard in China she will undertake her “delivery voyage” to Europe. This will take around a month. STENA ESTRID is expected in service between Dublin and Holyhead in “early 2020”.

The second E-Flexer, STENA EDDA, is expected to be in service between Belfast and Birkenhead around mid-2020. STENA EDDA is currently in the process of being fitted out, as is the third vessel in the series, Brittany Ferries GALICIA. A second vessel for the Birkenhead to Belfast route, STENA EMBLA, is still under construction.

STENA ESTRID at the fitting out pier, AVIC Weihai. AVIC Ship.
The first Stena E-Flexer, STENA ESTRID, at the fitting out pier, AVIC Weihai. AVIC Ship.

Further E-Flexer Orders in the Pipeline?

To date a total of nine firm orders have been placed for Stena E-Flexer series ships, while Stena RoRo have options for two more at the shipyard.  There have been unconfirmed reports, however, that Stena RoRo are in negotiations with the shipyard to take the number of vessels built past 11.  At present Stena Line are expected to take delivery of 5 ships (including two enlarged examples), Brittany Ferries three (two of which will use LNG as fuel), and DFDS one.

Brittany Ferries GALICIA is manoeuvred to an outfitting quay after leaving her building dock on September 11 2019. Courtesy of Stena RoRo.
Brittany Ferries GALICIA is manoeuvred to an outfitting quay after leaving her building dock on September 11 2019. Courtesy of Stena RoRo.

For more information on the Stena E-Flexer series of ferries, visit our dedicated feature.