Dover-headquartered ferry operator P&O Ferries is preparing to take delivery of its largest cross-channel ferry to date. The company, which made headlines last year when it sacked almost 800 staff without prior consultation, expects to take delivery of two brand-new ships this year to replace the oldest ships on its Dover – Calais service.
The first of these new ships will be called P&O PIONEER and is expected to enter service during spring this year. Sister-ship P&O LIBERTE will follow later in the year. The new ferries will replace PRIDE OF KENT and PRIDE OF CANTERBURY in the fleet. P&O PIONEER has already conducted multiple sea trials, the latest of which took place over the weekend.
According to a timetable seen by NI Ferry, P&O PIONEER will leave China during mid-February. The ship is expected to arrive in the UK during the second week of March via stops at Singapore and Gibraltar for stores and bunkers.
P&O PIONEER and P&O LIBERTE will be unique on the Dover Strait. Not only will they be the only double-ended ferries (with the same appearance at both the bow and stern ends), but they will also be the only diesel-battery hybrids. The Chinese-built ships have been designed to be much more efficient than the vessels they replace. P&O Ferries says that they should consume about 40% less fuel despite being much larger than the PRIDE OF KENT and PRIDE OF CANTERBURY.