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.
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.
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.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet RoPax BEN-MY-CHREE, Condor 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.
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