After nearly eight years in the Baltic, Cotentin has made a welcome return to the Brittany Ferries family this week. The ship has returned to the route for which she was originally built in 2007, carrying freight from Poole in Dorset to Cherbourg in Normandy. Her first departure took place Friday 1st January, from Cherbourg to Poole at 18:15.
Cotentin becomes the biggest freighter linking the UK to France. Specifically designed for the transport of freight vehicles, the ship’s 2,210 lane metres can carry 120 freight vehicles, with a cabin berth available for every driver. The ship flies the French flag, is registered in Cherbourg, and crewed entirely by French seafarers.
The return of Cotentin is important for two reasons. Firstly, it strengthens Brittany Ferries’ fleet offering, adding freight capacity and preparing for the launch of a multi-modal rail project linking Cherbourg with Bayonne, scheduled for 2022. A strong fleet offering is key to the company’s plan to emerge from the darkness of the current crisis, and Cotentin’s return follows the launch of its brand new vessel Galicia in December.
More immediately however, Cotentin is assisting the UK as it emerges at the end of the Brexit transition period. She operates as part of a contract secured by Brittany Ferries with the UK government’s Department for Transport (DfT) to support the smooth transit of essential freight beyond short sea routes.
The contract guarantees space on two Brittany Ferries routes, for goods like medical supplies leaving the European Union destined for the UK. In addition to Cotentin operating from Poole to Cherbourg, the contracts guarantee freight space for the UK government on the service connecting Portsmouth to Le Havre.
“We are delighted to welcome Cotentin back to the fleet,” commented CEO Christophe Mathieu “Having the right mix of vessels for our fleet gives us a fighting chance of emerging from the current crisis in good health. She returns as we operate services on two routes under a new UK government contract, the third such contract we will have won to provide support.
“These contracts underline the value of a rich western Channel route network, beyond the Dover Straits, to passengers, freight companies, governments and the regions we serve.”
Cotentin will serve Poole to Cherbourg until the beginning of April, initially in freight-only mode. She will depart from Poole each morning at 08.30 and arrive in Cherbourg at 2.00pm. For the return journey she will depart Cherbourg each evening at 6.15pm except Tuesdays when she will leave at 9.45pm.
In April, Barfleur will take over on the Poole to Cherbourg route. Cotentin will switch to cover the Portsmouth-Le Havre route, replacing Brittany Ferries’ Étretat, which will return to Swedish Stena RoRo as her charter ends.
168m long and 27m wide, Cotentin has 10 decks and can sail at speeds of up to 26 knots thanks to the 32,000 horsepower delivered by two giant engines. For her drivers she offers a self-service restaurant, spacious TV and rest lounges, a bar, boutique and 116 cabins.
Cotentin left the Brittany Ferries fleet in 2013, and was chartered to Stena Line, for whom she sailed between Gdynia (Poland) and Karlskrona (Sweden) bearing the name Stena Baltica.