Delivery of Belfast’s next new ferry, STENA EMBLA, is drawing close with the ship currently undertaking sea trials. The slightly modified sister-ship to STENA ESTRID and STENA EDDA left her builders yard at Weihai on October 15 at around 14:25 local time. After returning, the ship left Weihai again on the afternoon of October 17.
Once trials are complete and any pre-delivery adjustments made, the ship will be delivered to Stena RoRo who will transfer the ship to Stena Line. After her delivery voyage from China, crew training and familiarisation, and all other preparations for service have been made, it is expected that STENA EMBLA will enter service on the Belfast – Liverpool (Birkenhead) route opposite STENA EDDA during January.
Brittany Ferries GALICIA has been undertaking sea trials following her arrival in Europe, and has visited Portsmouth, Plymouth, Bilbao, and is currently in Santander. She will dry dock at Astander Santander during the coming week (possibly later today) for a hull inspection related to her switch to the French flag. Some finishing touches are also expected to be applied whilst at the yard.
GALICIA is currently scheduled to enter service in December between Portsmouth and Santander. Notably, berthing trials at Plymouth have been reported to have been successful, clearing the way for GALICIA (and part-sisters SANTOÑA and SALAMANCA) to operate into that port in future if required.
Final Orders Now Under Construction
The shipyard has confirmed that keel laying has taken place for the final three vessels in the series currently on order. The keels for the two lengthened Stena Line examples (W0270, W0271) and Brittany Ferries SANTOÑA (W0272) were laid earlier this month.
The keels for the ships have been laid ahead of new legislation coming into force which would require major design changes to the vessels, such as the use of tier-III compliant engines, should the keels be laid next year. Delivery is currently expected in May and November 2022 for the two Stena Line ships, and March 2023 for SANTONA.
Could there be more than 9 E-Flexers?
Shippax has also received confirmation that Stena has developed a number of additional different versions of the E-Flexer design, including a 200m long variation. While a number of different operators are reportedly interested in ordering further members of the series, to-date only Stena Line (5), DFDS (1), and Brittany Ferries (3) have done so.
Stena are known to have at least two unexercised options on the series, though with new legislative requirements including IMO2020 coming in to force it is likely any further examples on top of the nine already ordered will need to be built to a modified design.