“Industry sources” have told The Irish Times that new ferry W.B. YEATS now won’t arrive until October
The Irish Times reported on Friday that Irish Ferries already heavily delayed new ferry W.B. YEATS will now not arrive until October. The new vessel, which has been constructed in by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) in Germany, had originally be due to be delivered in May. The reports come ahead of Irish Ferries parent Irish Continental Group’s trading update this coming Thursday, where it is expected that it will be announced that annual profits are down by around 30%. In addition to the delayed delivery of W. B. YEATS and the resulting cancellation of all bookings, Irish Ferries flagship ULYSSES was out of service for a month due to issues with her starboard propulsion. There have also been reliability concerns with new fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT missing a number of sailings due to “weather”, and also struggling to keep to her timetable.
This year had started on a high for ICG with the announcement that a second new-build ferry had been ordered from the same yard as W. B YEATS to replace current flagship ULYSSES, which would be relegated to second ship on the Dublin – Holyhead route. However, subsequent problems have contributed to the group share price falling some 16% from its high this March. With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union next year, Irish Continental Group will hope that they have already had their share of bad luck and that their main business between the UK and Ireland won’t be heavily impacted. Competition looks set to increase as well with Stena Line also expecting a new-build of their own on the Dublin to Holyhead route, and Seatruck Ferries looking to continue their strong growth out of their Dublin and Warrenpoint bases.
The “Heysham Max” freighters SEATRUCK PERFORMANCE and SEATRUCK PRECISION are about to return from charter to Stena Line, increasing capacity on the Seatruck Warrenpoint to Heysham route by some 30%. Incidentally these two vessels were also built at FSG, with both currently at Cammell-Laird in Birkenhead being repainted and renamed from STENA PERFORMER and STENA PRECISION.
Stena Line of course are also increasing capacity on their Belfast to Liverpool (Birkenhead) route by around 10% with the arrival of STENA FORERUNNER, further hotting things up on the competitive freight market between the U.K Mainland and Island of Ireland. The loss of STENA PERFORMER on the Belfast to Heysham route and her subsequent replacement by STENA SCOTIA has seen capacity reduced on that route however, at least for the time being.
Launches continue at FSG despite problems
The official explanation for the delivery delay to W. B. YEATS is the late arrival of interior and electrical components from suppliers. However it has been reported in a number of places online that the actual reason for delay is due to incorrect measurements being used in one of the interior sections by the subcontractor in Poland responsible for its construction and most of its outfitting. It has been said that this has meant that the already mostly fitted interiors have had to be ripped out and refitted, dramatically extending the final fit-out period.
Earlier this month the first blocks for the hull of Brittany Ferries HONFLEUR were laid on the covered slipway at FSG following the launch of the RoRo freighter MARIA GRAZIA ONORATO for Onorato group subsidiary Tirrenia. The latter has joined her sister-ship ALF POLLAK and W.B. YEATS at the outfitting pier. Irish Continental Group will hope that the problems with W. B. YEATS have been ironed out and that HONFLEUR is completed on schedule so their own second new-building is started on-time for delivery in mid-2020.
In the absence of W. B. YEATS veteran cruise ferry OSCAR WILDE (ex KRONPRINS HARALD) has been put on the Dublin to Holyhead schedule from the 9th October when fast-craft DUBLIN SWIFT is laid up as originally planned. It had been Irish Ferries intention to also layup OSCAR WILDE over winter, but instead she has become a useful cover vessel until the arrival of the delayed new ship despite her much smaller freight capacity compared to the vessel she replaces, EPSILON (ex CARTOUR EPSILON). The latter will be the sole Ireland to France vessel over the winter months, operating from Dublin to Cherbourg.