Profile of P&O Ferries Dutch built ferry NORBAY, which usually serves the Dublin to Liverpool route but has also provided cover on the Larne-Cairnryan route.

IMO Number: 9056595

Constructed by: Van der Giessen-de Noord N.V., Krimpen aan den IJssel [NL] #962

Also known as: N/A

Norbay in the new P&O livery, departing Larne. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

Photo: NORBAY departing Larne showing off her freshly applied new P&O livery, April 2015. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

Overview of Norbay

Originally built for what was then North Sea Ferries (now part of P&O Ferries) for their Hull to Rotterdam route, NORBAY (and her sister NORBANK) where two of the first of a new generation of ‘super freighters’ built in the 1990’s.  They were ordered to supplement the passenger and vehicle ferries NORSEA and NORSUN on the Hull to Rotterdam route, however when these vessels were replaced by PRIDE OF HULL and PRIDE OF ROTTERDAM, NORBAY and NORBANK became surplus to requirements and were transferred to the Irish Sea.

North Sea Ferries drawing of Norbay/Norbank.
North Sea Ferries drawing of Norbay/Norbank.

Built by the Van der Giessen-de Noord yard at Krimpen aan der IJssel (near Rotterdam) in 1993/94, both sisters regularly operate on the Dublin to Liverpool service.  Due to restrictions on length at the P&O North Channel berths, NORBAY has provided refit cover for EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY and EUROPEAN HIGLANDER (despite her low passenger capacity) in previous years, as she is one of the few remaining P&O vessels which can fit within these restrictions.  In 2017, Dover based freighter EUROPEAN SEAWAY provided refit relief instead, taking advantage of the fact that the now upgraded berth at Cairnryan can handle larger vessels.

P&O’s NORBAY undertaking berthing trials at Troon on 5th June 2011. Copyright Gordon Hislip.
P&O’s NORBAY undertaking berthing trials at Troon on 5th June 2011. Copyright Gordon Hislip.

The design of NORBAY and NORBANK is an evolution of the design used for 5 freight ferries built by Finacantieri (in Italy) and Van der Giessen (the Netherlands) for Italy’s Viamare sea motorway project, the first of which was VIA LIGURE.  As they were designed freighters, NORBAY and her sister do not boast the passenger facilities of vessels on similar passenger routes, though basic facilities are provided for tourist passengers as well as commercial drivers on their present route.

Ben-My-Three pictured on trials in her original livery. Van de Giessen de Noord B.V.
BEN-MY-CHREE pictured on trials in her original livery. She is one of a number of vessels which are related to NORBAY and her sister NORBANK.  Van de Giessen de Noord B.V.

Related Vessels

The Isle of Man Steam Packet RoPax BEN-MY-CHREECondor Ferries COMMODORE CLIPPER, and Irish Ferries significantly larger ISLE OF INISHMORE (herself adapted from the design of STENA JUTLANDICA) and former ISLE OF INNISFREE (now Kiwi Rail’s KAITAKI) are also evolutions of this basic design.  As-built the design of Stena’s HAMMERODDE and Blue Bridge’s STRAITSMAN are based on COMMODORE CLIPPER and BEN-MY-CHREE, despite being constructed at different yards following the collapse of Van der Giessen.

Technical Data

IMO Number9056595
ShipyardVan der Giessen-de noord logoVan Der Giessen-de Noord N.V., Netherlands
Yard Number962
OperatorP&O ferries new logoP&O Ferries
Usual routeLiverpool – Dublin
Length overall166,77 m (inc b.b.)
Breadth23,4 m (extreme)
Depth14.4m (moulded)
Draft6.016m maximum
Gross Tonnage17.464
Deadweight6,722 tonnes
Machinery4 x Sulzer Diesel Engines (2 × 9 ZA40S + 2 × 8 ZA40S). Built by Zgoda SA, Swietochlowice, Poland.

2 x controllable pitch propellers and 2 transverse thrusters forward

Total power33,300 bhp / 24,480 kW
Speed22 kn.
Passenger capacity114
Vehicle capacity156 x 12.5m trailers
Total lane metres2.040 lm
FlagHamilton (Bermuda)
Sister shipsNORBANK (1993)


Norbay at Larne. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
Norbay at Larne. Copyright © Scott Mackey.


Norbay. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
Norbay. Copyright © Scott Mackey.


Norbay departing Larne, April 2015. Photograph Copyright © Gary Andrews.
Norbay departing Larne, April 2015. Photograph Copyright © Gary Andrews.

The above article is Copyright © Steven Tarbox, all rights reserved.  Unauthorised reproduction or distribution is strictly prohibited.

With thanks to Scott Mackey and Gary Andrews for the use of their images.

Original article published: 03/04/15
Last updated:  27/06/18

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