The Dover Strait’s newest ferry, P&O PIONEER, will soon be in service according to P&O Ferries’ timetables. The groundbreaking double-ended ferry is currently scheduled to debut with a freight-only sailing from Dover to Calais at 03:10 on Monday 19 June. P&O PIONEER’s first passenger sailing is currently scheduled for 20:25 on the same day, also from Dover to Calais.
P&O PIONEER is the largest double-ended ferry in the world as well as the most technically advanced on the English Channel. P&O Ferries claims that P&O PIONEER will consume 40% less fuel than previous vessels, considerably lowering the environmental impact of the ship.
The new ship, which was built by GSI in China to a design by the Danish OSK Group, began undertaking berthing trials in Calais on 4 June. Berthing trials in Dover followed the next day. P&O PIONEER is replacing PRIDE OF KENT in the P&O fleet. The latter completed her service on the route on 4 June with a sailing from Calais to Dover and is currently tied up at the Kent port.
The fate of PRIDE OF KENT is currently unclear though it seems likely that she has completed her final sailing for P&O Ferries if all goes to plan with P&O PIONEER. The Pioneers’ sister-ship, P&O LIBERTÉ, is expected to be in service before the end of the year, replacing the PRIDE OF CANTERBURY.
It is possible that both PRIDE OF KENT and PRIDE OF CANTERBURY could be sold for recycling should another operator not be found for the vessels. This was the fate of part-sister-ship PRIDE OF BURGUNDY which is currently being cut up in Turkey. The trio were all modified from Seaway class freight vessels built in the early 1990’s and have around 30 years of intensive English Channel service behind them.