The new Belfast – Liverpool ferry, STENA EDDA, left Singapore last night for Galle in Sri Lanka. She is currently expected to arrive off the Sri Lankan port on February 4, having left Singapore at around 11pm (UK time) last night. Like sister-ship STENA ESTRID, it is likely STENA EDDA will not stop at Galle and will instead make an outside port limits call at low speed before proceeding to the Red Sea and Suez Canal. The journey will take the new ferry through the Malacca Strait and Gulf of Aden, both notorious piracy hotspots. It is understood ‘Edda’ will collect some armed guards at Galle as a precaution, as did her sister.
STENA EDDA is expected to be virtually identical to STENA ESTRID which entered service on the Dublin – Holyhead route earlier this month. In order to accommodate the new ship work has been underway in both Belfast and Birkenhead to upgrade the berths to facilitate simultaneous twin-level loading and unloading. This work is understood to be well on it’s way to completion, and so STENA EDDA should enter service towards the end of spring as planned.
The new ship is much larger than the vessel she will replace, one of STENA LAGAN or STENA MERSEY. Not only can she accommodate far more vehicles, but she also has considerably more space for passenger facilities. Notably she also has around 50% more cabins available for passengers and a higher passenger certificate of 1,000 compared to her predecessor. Although few pictures currently exist of the passenger accommodation onboard STENA EDDA, NIFerry was onboard the maiden voyage of sister STENA ESTRID, and a selection of pictures taken onboard the ship can be found here.
A third new ferry also built to the same “Stena E-Flexer” design, STENA EMBLA, will arrive on the Irish Sea next year. She will operate opposite STENA EDDA on the Belfast – Liverpool route. The current vessels, STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY, are expected to go for lengthening and rebuilding in Turkey for a different route, starting after STENA EDDA enters service.
On arrival in the U.K., STENA EDDA is likely to spend a period alongside at either Belfast or Liverpool while final preparations including crew training and certification take place ahead of her entering service. The new ship will also need to conduct berthing trials at both Belfast and Birkenhead. Both ports have constructed new linkspans on the berths to be used by STENA EDDA and STENA EMBLA.
Once the Belfast berth is back in use it is expected that Stena Line’s Belfast – Heysham freight services will move back to VT1, which is currently being used by the Liverpool service while work is completed on the Liverpool berth at VT2. Heysham services currently sail from Stena’s old Stranraer terminal at Albert Quay close to the city centre.