P&O's Larne to Cairnryan vessels European Causeway and European Highlander are expected to go for dry docking between the 28th April and 2nd June this year. European Highlander will be first, heading for Cammell-Laird Birkenhead on 28th of April. She will return on the 15th of May, allowing European Causeway to take her turn at Cammell-Laird.
Throughout the dry-docking period P&O's Dover based "Super Freighter" European Seaway will provide cover, becoming the largest ferry to ever operate a scheduled service from Larne in the process. This will be the first time European Seaway has visited Northern Ireland, with dry-docking periods in recent years normally covered by Dublin-Liverpool's Norbay. Due to her length (around 10m longer than the limit stated on the Port of Larne website) NIFS expect that she will use the MacKean Quay berth in Larne, which is the longest berth available at the port. MacKean Quay also has the twin-tier linkspan European Seaway will need to be able to load both of her freight decks (having been designed for twin-level loading only, European Seaway does not have internal ramps). However this has yet to be confirmed. At present it looks as though P&O will continue to operate their normal timetable.
However NIFS understand a height restriction may be in place for HGV's (we are awaiting confirmation from P&O). Foot passengers will not be carried on sailings operated by European Seaway (as was the case with Norbay) as she has a smaller passenger capacity than the regular vessels. Since this article was published, P&O have advised us that there will be a height restriction of 4.9m on all sailings operated by European Seaway.
In addition to the normal routine maintenance and certification tasks, both vessels are to have their restaurant areas refurbished as part of the rollout of a new food concept onboard.
Title image: European Highlander leaves Larne in the freshly applied new P&O livery back in May 2015. Copyright © Gary Andrews.