Ferry InformationIrish (ROI) Vessels

NORBAY | P&O Ferries

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 the much larger 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. She was one of the few remaining P&O vessels which could fit within the restrictions at Cairnryan.  In 2017, Dover based freighter EUROPEAN SEAWAY provided refit relief instead, taking advantage of the fact that the now upgraded berth at Cairnryan could 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 these was was VIA LIGURE.  As they were designed as freighters, NORBAY and her sister do not boast the passenger facilities of vessels on similar passenger routes. Basic facilities are provided for tourist passengers as well as commercial drivers on their present route, however.

On the morning of April 16, 2020, NORBAY was detained by Peel Ports at Liverpool due to a dispute over payment of port charges by P&O Ferries. The detention led to the suspension of the Liverpool to Dublin route until further notice. NORBAY remained on the berth at Gladstone Dock during her detention at the port.

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.  ISLE OF INISHMORE and STENA JUTLANDICA were built on a significantly widened and upgraded hull form, however.

Ben-My-Three pictured on trials in her original livery. Van de Giessen de Noord B.V.
Ben-My-Three pictured on trials in her original livery. Van de Giessen de Noord B.V.

As-built, the design of Stena’s STENA VINGA 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.

STENA VINGA. Stena Line.
STENA VINGA. Stena Line.

Technical Data

NameNORBAY
IMO Number9056595
Launched13.11.1993
Completed28.02.1994
ShipyardVan der Giessen-de noord logo
Van Der Giessen-de Noord N.V., Netherlands
Yard Number962
OperatorP&O ferries new logo
P&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 bow thrusters

Total power33,300 bhp / 24,480 kW
Speed22 kn.
Crew57
Passenger capacity114
Vehicle capacity156 x 12.5m trailers, 125 commercial vehicles, or a mix of HGV’s and cars
Total lane metres2,040 lm
FlagHamilton (Bermuda)
Sister shipsNORBANK (1993)

Norbay Gallery


With thanks to Scott Mackey, Gary Andrews, Robbie Cox, and Gordon Hislip for the use of their images.


Original article published: 03/04/15
Last updated:  17/04/20 (content), 04/01/19 (converted to Gutenberg Blocks)
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Steven Tarbox

Steven is the editor of NIFerry.co.uk having established the site in 2014. He lives near Belfast.
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