Steel cutting began today on what will be the fifth Stena E-Flexer to be built for Stena RoRo at AVIC Weihai. The ship, which will be longterm bareboat chartered to DFDS for their Dover to Calais route will be named CÔTE D’OPALE. The new ship, which will be the longest ferry serving the Dover Strait when she arrives in 2021, is named after the Côte D’Opale region in Northern France which includes the ferry ports of Calais and Dunkirk as well as France’s largest fishing port and former ferry port Boulogne.
CÔTE D’OPALE will join CÔTE DES DUNES (ex RODIN / SEAFRANCE RODIN) and CÔTE DES FLANDRES (ex RENOIR / SEAFRANCE RENOIR) on the Dover to Calais route when she arrives in 2021, and is expected to replace CALAIS SEAWAYS (ex NORMAN SPIRIT, OSTEND SPIRIT, PRIDE OF AQUITAINE, PRINS FILIP, etc), which is the oldest and smallest passenger vessel currently on the route. The new ship will be able to carry 3,100 lane metres of cargo and 1,000 passengers with fuel consumption expected to be up to 25% less than current vessels. NIFS expects the keel will be laid for CÔTE D’OPALE once the third E-Flexer GALICIA (for Brittany Ferries) floats out, with the DFDS ship taking the place of the latter in the building dock. Steel cutting starting on CÔTE D’OPALE follows the keel laying of the second E-Flexer for the Belfast to Liverpool route STENA EMBLA and floating out of the first, STENA EDDA, last month. As expected the DFDS vessel has been allocated the yard number W0268.
Kasper Moos, Head of short routes and passenger at DFDS is quoted by Kent Online as saying
“We have great pleasure in announcing our new ship will be named the Cote D’Opale and the steel cutting marked a very special and exciting time as the ship starts to take shape in the construction process.
“The Côte D’Opale will give our passengers a relaxed travel experience with modern food concepts and the largest shopping experience on the channel.
“We continue to have a clear focus on our customers and take great pride in continually seeking improvements to ensure those special memorable experiences of travelling with DFDS.’’
The start of construction of CÔTE D’OPALE follows that for part-sisters STENA ESTRID, STENA EDDA, GALICIA (for charter to Brittany Ferries) and STENA EMBLA. The DFDS vessel will be unique with a different hull design at both bow and stern and with an additional bow thruster added compared to the other standard length E-Flexer vessels. She will also have a unique passenger deck layout designed with the short 90-minute crossing between Dover and Calais in mind, with passenger cabins not provided as on the other ships in the E-Flexer series. A further 3 E-Flexer ships are confirmed to have been ordered, with Stena Line taking two lengthened examples and Brittany Ferries taking another two of standard length.
The first Stena E-Flexer, STENA ESTRID, is currently fitting out and is expected to enter service on the Holyhead to Dublin route early in 2020. For more information on the Stena E-Flexer series see our overview here.