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New Ireland to Spain Ferry On Way to Gibraltar (updated 13.10)

Update 13.10.19 (PM): Stena RoRo’s KERRY arrived at Gibraltar earlier today and took on bunkers. She has now left with a destination of Santander as was previously speculated. She has been pictured at Gibraltar wearing a similar Brittany Ferries livery to CONNEMARA with the new logo, but retains her Adria Ferries blue band along the boot top. At present, KERRY is expected to join the Brittany Ferries network during early November. While her sailings are on sale, passengers can only currently book by telephoning Brittany Ferries. Sailings past the end of October have not yet been added to the online booking engine.

The next ‘new’ ferry to join the services linking Ireland to Continental Europe left Croatia on Tuesday (08.10.19), with a destination of Gibraltar.  KERRY (ex AF MICHELA / STENA EGERIA, etc) had been at a shipyard in Rijeka where she was handed back to owner Stena RoRo by previous charterer Adria Ferries.  The former AF MICHELA will be chartered to Brittany Ferries from November who have stated they will use her on their Ireland to Spain route. It is understood that while at the shipyard, AF MICHELA was renamed KERRY and repainted into a similar version of the Brittany Ferries livery as currently used on CONNEMARA but with the updated Brittany Ferries logo.

Bunkers

It is expected that KERRY will only stop at Gibraltar for bunkers before making her way around the Iberian Peninsula.  The ultimate destination of the 18-year-old vessel is not yet clear (though there have been reports from Spain that it may be Santander), but it is expected that she will either lay over or undergo further work until required by Brittany Ferries in November.  

KERRY will replace the current Cork – Santander vessel CONNEMARA. In turn CONNEMARA will transfer to Brittany Ferries services from Great Britain.  This is in order to bother provide additional capacity as well as relief cover for PONT AVEN while the latter undergoes for repairs in Poland.  These repairs are expected to take around 3 months and are required following an engine room fire earlier this year.  Like CONNEMARA, KERRY is crewed by Stena and flies the Cypriot flag.  CONNEMARA is however expected to transfer to the French registry with a crew provided by Brittany Ferries themselves after she has been displaced from the Cork – Santander route.

A different Profile

Although part of the same series of Ro-Pax’s built at the Visentini yard in Italy, KERRY has a totally different profile from CONNEMARA (and other Visentini Ro-Pax’s such as STENA LAGAN/STENA MERSEY, ETRETAT, STENA FLAVIA, and EPSILON). This is because she is from the first generation of the ships based on the former MERSEY VIKING (i). The other examples above are all from the third generation, and have both a revised superstructure and a more efficient bow design.

CONNEMARA. Brittany Ferries.
CONNEMARA. Brittany Ferries.

A Brief History of Brittany Ferries ‘Kerry’.

KERRY has a more complex history than many vessels, but a brief overview is provided below. A more detailed profile of KERRY with a full technical specification will be published to NI Ferry Site within the next few weeks.

Italy and Vietnam

KERRY was originally CARTOUR, the first of a series of Visentini Ro-Pax ferries delivered to Caronte & Tourist.  Having become surplus to requirements at Caronte & Tourist, CARTOUR was sold to Vietnamese state-controlled operator Vinashin Ocean Shipping towards the end of 2007.  She was initially renamed VINASHIN PRINCE, but was soon renamed HOA SEN (‘lotus’ in Vietnamese) and deployed on a new long-distance service in Vietnam.  This service would be short-lived, however, due to financial irregularities at the parent company. HOA SEN would operate just 39 trips before she was arrested during December 2008 having racked up huge losses.  

China and Korea

It would be 2011 before HOA SEN would see service again, operating on charter for a new startup linking China and South Korea.  This would be another short-lived service, however, with the vessel arrested again due to debts owed by her parent company leading to the charter agreement being terminated.  Once released from arrest, HOA SEN was laid up in China until Stena RoRo agreed to purchase her in late 2013.  Stena RoRo had her towed to Chengxi Shipyard in China where she received a thorough overhaul and upgrade work under their supervision to bring her up to Stena standards. Renamed STENA EGERIA, she was chartered from mid-2014 to Yantai Bohai Ferry for a service between Yantai (China) and Pyeongtaek (South Korea). This arrangement ended in mid-2017.

STENA EGERIA after her refit/rebuild for Stena RoRo. She was previously HOA SEN. Stena RoRo.
An official image of STENA EGERIA released by Stena to coincide with her refit/rebuild for Stena RoRo. She was previously HOA SEN. Stena RoRo.

Return to Europe

A return to Southern European waters was next for STENA EGERIA, with a charter to Albania to Italy operator Adria Ferries.  Renamed AF MICHELA, she was painted in full Adria Ferries livery in Perama (Greece). She started service on the Durres – Ancona/Trieste route from October 2017.  She would remain on this route, operating with a reduced passenger capacity of 350, until October this year when she was returned to owners Stena RoRo.  Brittany Ferries had already announced their intention to charter the vessel in order to release CONNEMARA from their Irish routes with the new name of KERRY.

AF MICHELA, ex STENA EGERIA, HOA SEN, etc. Stena RoRo.
AF MICHELA, ex STENA EGERIA, HOA SEN, etc. Stena RoRo.

Sister-ship

KERRY‘s direct sister-ship is Adria Ferries AF CLAUDIA which has replaced her in their fleet.  AF CLAUDIA is the former CALIFORNIA STAR of Baja Ferries. She was originally STENA FORWARDER on Stena Line’s Dublin to Holyhead route. STENA FORWARDER left the Stena Line fleet when she became surplus to requirements due to the arrival of STENA ADVENTURER (ii). Balearia’s NAPOLES and SICILIA were also originally built to a similar design, which was based on MERSEY VIKING (i) but with an enlarged superstructure.

Stena Line's first Visentini Ro-Pax, STENA FORWARDER. Copyright © Rob de Visser.
Stena Line’s first Visentini Ro-Pax, STENA FORWARDER. Copyright © Rob de Visser.

Steven Tarbox

Steven is a ferry enthusiast from Belfast in Northern Ireland. He founded what was then NI Ferry Site 2014. Since then the site has grown from nothing to an average of over 43k pageviews per month in 2020.
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