Update 16.01.19: The first E-Flexer has been floated in China and is named STENA ESTRID.
Tomorrow marks an important milestone in the E-Flexer project for Stena and AVIC Weihai, with the first vessel due to be floated out at AVIC Weihai tomorrow morning. Stena Line has announced that they will be broadcasting the “launch” live from China via their LinkedIn page from 07:30 CET (06:30 GMT).
Since our last update the vessel has been painted and the last of the portholes (delivered from France!) installed. This is despite the seasonal winter weather in Shandong province which has meant the vessel has been painted in heavy winds and even snow! Shippax paid a visit to the ship last month to check on progress and got a little peek at what she will look at inside. The as-yet-unnamed vessel has been allocated the yard number W0263.
Tomorrow should also see the keel laying of the first of the vessels to be chartered out, W0267, which has been earmarked for Brittany Ferries and will be named GALICIA. The construction of the first vessel earmarked for Belfast, W0264, is already well underway while steel cutting and thus module production for the second, W0266, began in November. A total of eight E-Flexer vessels are on order, with two being chartered out to Brittany Ferries and another to DFDS.
Closer to home the reconfiguration of Victoria Terminal’s 1 and 2 is well underway with both Heysham and Birkenhead freight traffic using the same common entrance on Dargan Road and exit on Westbank Road. NIFS understands that work to add a second tier to the linkspan at VT2 should commence around the middle of this year which will mean the Birkenhead vessels will need to use the VT1 berth instead. Modifications will also need to be made to the south berth at Birkenhead in order to accommodate the new vessels as well.