A quick roundup of some recent stories featuring local, industry, and former local vessel news which haven’t warranted their own separate post.
Dublin Swift in Belfast
DUBLIN SWIFT arrived back in Belfast on Thursday 25th, having loaded her new mezzanine vehicle decks at Larne as previously reported. She is currently berthed at Harland & Wolff’s Ship Repair Quay (SRQ). NIFS understands it is the current plan for her to stay in Belfast for the duration of her winter layup, however it is not yet clear whether this will be at the SRQ or at another location such as Albert Quay, as used by the former P&O catamaran EXPRESS for winter layup.
Clipper Ranger returns to Birkenhead
Seatruck Ferries CLIPPER RANGER returned to Bidston Repair Berth in Birkenhead last Saturday (27th), having been at the Seatruck Terminal in Liverpool from October 16th. As previously reported the former Warrenpoint, Belfast, and Larne vessel is listed for sale.
W.B. Yeats sea trials begin
The big industry news this week is that Irish Ferries W.B. YEATS commenced sea trials last night, completing some manoeuvres overnight in and around Flensburg Firth before setting a course for the Danish Island of Bornholm at around 9am this morning. She has been recorded reaching speeds in excess of 24 knots as indicated by marinetraffic.com. Once her sea trials are completed it is expected she will visit the Fayard shipyard in Odense (Denmark) for exhaust gas scrubbers to be fitted, before returning to Flensburg for handover to her owners.
Ulysses maintenance update
Irish Ferries ULYSSES has not gone to dry dock as some speculated she would this week, and instead moved stern first along the Liffey to berth 25 (normally used by P&O) in Dublin port. She has remained there since yesterday (Monday 29th) evening.
Stena Freighter to become rocket landing pad!
It has been confirmed that STENA FREIGHTER has been acquired by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company Blue Origin. The Stena 4-Runner Mk1 vessel is to apparently be used as a landing pad for rocket boosters and has been moored at Pensacola in Florida since the 18thOctober. It is expected that STENA FREIGHTER will be modified for her new role recovering first stage rocket boosters in advance of the first flights in 2021 – an operation that is to take place while the vessel is moving, unlike competitor SpaceX’s vessels. STENA FREIGHTER is a smaller and older part-sister to the current Belfast – Birkenhead freighter STENA FORERUNNER.
Former NI Ferries
Stena Nordica flag change
Following the announcement of her return to the Karlskrona – Gdynia route, STENA NORDICA’s flag was changed from London (UK) to NASSAU (Bahamas) on October 5th. It is common for ferries with Polish crews to carry the Bahamas flag rather than that of Poland, a practice that even takes place on Polish state owned and operated vessels. STENA NORDICA has previously provided overhaul cover on the Belfast to Cairnryan service, and is a part-sister to P&O’s EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY and EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER.
The former STENA ANTRIM and ST CHRISTOPHER is looking increasingly neglected, despite repainting earlier this year in Turkey and a move to Greece. Recent pictures online show her looking increasingly rusty (particularly on her bow) with little work appearing to have taken place externally since our last update on her. A recent photo can be seen here (external link).
Despite her reported sale to Greek interests, former P&O Larne – Troon catamaran EXPRESS remains at Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and at the time of writing has retained her name. FerryBalear (in Spanish) reports however that she is now flying the Greek flag. There have been some suggestions online that ARMAS may charter her from her new owners for a second season in Spanish waters.