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Stena Europe | Stena Line

Stena Europe in Rosslare showing off her new livery. Stena Line.
STENA EUROPE is seen in Rosslare showing off her new livery following her 2017 refit at Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Stena Line.
Stena Line's Stena Europe is a Swedish-built multipurpose ferry which normally serves the route between Fishguard and Rosslare.

Fast Facts

  • IMO Number: 7901760
  • Constructed by: Götaverken Arendal [SE] #908
  • Also known as:
    Kronprinsessan Victoria, Stena Saga, Lion Europe
  • Passenger capacity: 1,400
  • Vehicle Capacity: 1,120 lm of freight or 480 cars
  • Current Operator: Stena Line (Irish Sea South)
  • Usual Route: Fishguard [GB] – Rosslare [IE]

Stena Europe’s Early Years

STENA EUROPE was christened as the KRONPRINSESSAN VICTORIA on 1st September 1980 at the Götaverken Arendal shipyard in Sweden.  She was christened by H.M Queen Silvia of Sweden, who gave the new ferry the name of her (then) four year old daughter Kronprinsessan (Crown Princess) Victoria.  STENA EUROPE and her sister PRINSESSAN BIRIGITTA (later Sealink’s ST. NICHOLASSTENA NORMANDY, and Irish Ferries’ NORMANDY) are notable in the fact that they were not ordered by Stena Line but by a direct competitor, Rederi AB Göteborg – Frederikshavn Linjen (who traded as Sessan Line), yet were delivered new to Stena.

KRONPRINSESSAN VICTORIA and her sister were ordered by Sessan Line for their Gothenburg to Fredrikshavn service on 15th February 1979 in order to replace much smaller vessels. This was so the company could compete better with Stena Line who also operated the same route. At the time they were set to be not only the largest ferries on their route but also two of the largest ferries in the world!

Scan of Stena's 1984 brochure cover featuring the new Stena Danica and Stena Jutlandica, passing a berthed Kronprinsessan Victoria in Gothenburg. Björn Larsson collection
Scan of Stena’s 1984 brochure cover featuring the new Stena Danica and Stena Jutlandica, passing a berthed Kronprinsessan Victoria in Gothenburg. Björn Larsson collection.

Design

Although built in Sweden, the two new Sessan ships were designed by Sessan in partnership with their long term shipbuilder of choice Aalborg Vaerft A/S in Denmark. Aalborg Værft had expected to build the vessels themselves, but were undercut on price by Götaverken Arendal who were receiving generous Swedish state subsidies and so could offer a price of SEK 195m each.

Scan of Stena's 1984 brochure cover featuring the new Stena Danica and Stena Jutlandica, passing a berthed Kronprinsessan Victoria in Gothenburg. Björn Larsson collection.
Scan from inside Stena’s 1984 brochure showing Kronprinsessan Victoria at sea. Björn Larsson collection.

A few months after the official announcement that Sessan Line had ordered the two ferries, Stena responded by placing an order for two large ferries of their own with Chantiers du Nord et de la Mediterrane in Dunkirk, France, for the same route.  Unlike the Sessan Line ships, the two Stena Ships (which would become STENA DANICA (4) and STENA JUTLANDICA (2)) where designed by Stena purely as ‘day’ ferries and optimised for the Fredrikshavn route.

Compromises for Flexibility

Sessan did not have the financial resources to build new ships for both their Gothenburg – Frederikshavn and Gothenburg – Travemünde routes, and so the new sisters been designed from the outset to be easily redeployed elsewhere such as the overnight Travemünde service.  An example of this was the provision of over 600 cabin berths (over 200 of which were below the freight decks), yet the Fredrikshavn – Gothenburg crossing only took a few hours.  Stena in contrast had the resources to order 4 huge overnight ferries from a Polish yard (at much lower cost per unit than the Sessan vessels) in addition to their two Frederikshavn optimised day ferries from France.

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The Sessan Line vessels were also designed to operate from a number of ports independent of port-side ramps and could load and discharge both vehicle decks simultaneously via their three stern ramps. However, at the bow the lower vehicle deck had to be cleared first in order to unload the vehicles on the upper vehicle deck via an internal ramp, with the reverse true when loading. Sessan Line’s long-term engine supplier NOHAB supplied a new type of engine cooperation with their now-parent company Wärtsilä, the Wärtsilä-Vasa 12V32. Although these engines produced less power than other engines of similar size they would prove to be extremely reliable, while parts could be interchanged between the main and auxiliary engines which were of similar design.

While KRONPRINSESSAN VICTORIA was still undertaking sea trials during 1981 and months before her delivery, Stena took a majority share in Sessan Line and formed a new company ‘Stena Sessan Line’.

First Rebuild

Unlike her sister, STENA EUROPE has only served with Stena owned companies throughout her career – namely Stena Line/Stena Sessan Line and Lion Ferry.  For the first 11 months of that career, almost to the day, KRONPRINSESSAN VICTORIA served the Fredrikshavn – Gothenburg route for which she was built.  In March 1982 she entered the dry dock at Gothenburg’s Cityvarvet shipyard for the first of a number of rebuilds, in this case to a night ferry for the Gothenburg to Kiel service, though she also provided extra sailings on the route for which she was built in peak seasons.  

Stena Saga

Following the introduction of the second of Stena’s much delayed Polish built night ferries, STENA SCANDINAVICA (since renamed STENA SPIRIT), KRONPRINSESSAN VICTORIA returned to CItyvarvet for even more cabins to be added.  This was to make her more suitable for the Oslo – Fredrikshavn route, which she joined in mid-May 1988 named STENA SAGA, replacing the previous vessel to carry that name.

To Harwich as Stena Europe

By 1994 Stena management had decided that they needed a larger and more luxurious vessel to further grow the Oslo – Fredrikshavn route, and so the decision was taken to swap STENA SAGA with the Harwich – Hook of Holland vessel STENA BRITANNICA (previously Silja Line’s SILVIA REGINA which when launched in 1981 was together with her sister FINLANDIA the largest ferry in the world).  As the Harwich – Hook of Holland service didn’t require as many cabins but was a busier route for freight, the decision was taken to remove the additional cabin block which had been added to STENA SAGA‘s top deck in the previous rebuild.  This reduced the ships overall weight and so allowed more cargo to be carried.  As it was now traditional for the Oslo – Fredrikshavn ship to be named STENA SAGASTENA BRITANNICA took that name and the outgoing STENA SAGA was given a new name – STENA EUROPE.

STENA EUROPE seen in the "classic" Stena Line livery in service between Hoek van Holland and Harwich. Copyright © Rob de Visser.
STENA EUROPE seen in the “classic” Stena Line livery in service between Hoek van Holland and Harwich. Copyright © Rob de Visser.

Replacement

STENA EUROPE was a successful ship on the Harwich – Hook of Holland run, which isn’t surprising considering the route had previously been successfully operated by her sister ship ST. NICHOLAS (the former PRINSESSAN BIRIGITTA). This had been before Stena took over the route, which had previously been a joint Dutch (SMZ) and British (Sealink) venture.  STENA EUROPE continued on the England to Holland route until the arrival of the new Stena HSS 1500 vessel HSS STENA DISCOVERY in 1997. Stena then reallocated STENA EUROPE and her operating partner KONINGIN BEATRIX (which had been acquired as part of the takeover of the Hook of Holland route) elsewhere in their network.  

HSS STENA DISCOVERY in service between Hoek van Holland and Harwich. Copyright © Rob de Visser.
HSS STENA DISCOVERY in service between Hoek van Holland and Harwich. Copyright © Rob de Visser.

Lion Europe

KONINGIN BEATRIX went to the Fishguard to Rosslare route to replace another former Scandinavian ferry, STENA FELICITY, which was returned from charter to her owners.  Meanwhile, STENA EUROPE was sent for refurbishment and renamed LION EUROPE.and She was repainted to operate for Stena’s Lion Ferry subsidiary between Karlskrona (Southern Sweden) and Gdynia.  However, during 1998 Stena integrated the Lion Ferry brand fully into Stena Line, and LION EUROPE became STENA EUROPE again after little more than 6 months!

STENA EUROPE becomes LION EUROPE at Wilton Fijenoord, Schiedam. Copyright © Rob de Visser
STENA EUROPE becomes LION EUROPE at Wilton-Fijenoord, Schiedam. Copyright © Rob de Visser

Back to the UK With a Familiar Name

In 2002 the Karlskrona – Gdynia route was continuing to grow, and it was decided yet again to swap STENA EUROPE, this time with her former Harwich to Hook of Holland running mate KONINGIN BEATRIX which would be rebuilt into STENA BALTICA.  In order to make her more suitable for the shorter Fishguard to Rosslare route, STENA EUROPE was sent back the same yard that converted her to a night ferry, Cityvarvet Gothenburg, for conversion back to a day ferry.  This involved removing cabin accommodation which had been placed on the upper vehicle deck in her previous rebuild and refurbishing the passenger spaces.

Stena Europe at Harland and Wolff's ship repair quay in 2012. Copyright © Alan Geddes.
Stena Europe at Harland and Wolff’s ship repair quay in 2012. Copyright © Alan Geddes.

Reunited with Prinsessan Birigita

Apart from periods where she has been required to go for maintenance or cover refit periods, STENA EUROPE has remained on the Fishguard – Rosslare route almost unbroken since 2002.  In a further twist, she was reunited with her sister ship PRINSESSAN BIRIGITTA in Rosslare between 1998 and 2007. She had been operated by Stena again as STENA NORMANDY between Southampton and Cherbourg before she was sold to Irish Ferries for operation between Cork/Rosslare and Cherbourg/Roscoff as NORMANDY.  She would also sail opposite STENA EUROPE on the competing Rosslare – Pembroke Dock route when the regular ship was unavailable.  

With her stabiliser fins in on approach to Rosslare Europort in a northerly gale STENA EUROPE feels the weather and rolls but hurries on to her destination, Sept 2008. Copyright © Gordon Hislip.
With her stabiliser fins in on approach to Rosslare Europort in a northerly gale STENA EUROPE feels the weather and rolls but hurries on to her destination, Sept 2008. Copyright © Gordon Hislip.

Farewell Sister

NORMANDY was replaced by OSCAR WILDE, and sold on for use as an accommodation ship in 2008 following a brief charter to Ferrymaroc, ending the reunion of the 2 sisters at Rosslare. NORMANDY would never see service again however, as after being renamed ARV2 and abandoned in Singapore for 4 years she was beached at Alang at the end of November 2012. It had been planned by her new owners to convert her into an accommodation vessel. STENA EUROPE, meanwhile, has continued in service and has even outlasted the vessel which replaced her at Harwich. HSS STENA DISCOVERY. The later was scrapped in Turkey during 2015 after an extended period out of service following her sale by Stena in 2009.

Aerial views of STENA EUROPE in Fishguard Bay on a sailing from Rosslare – Fishguard. KentPhotoPics

Stena Europe and Belfast

During her time operating on the Irish Sea, STENA EUROPE has been quite a regular visitor to Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard.  She arrived there for refit most recently on 4th January 2017. During this visit she was modified to accommodate full-height high top “maxi” trailers under the supervision of Stena RoRo. This was achieved by partially removing the existing hoistable car deck above deck 3 (which when lowered becomes deck 4) on the port side, and increasing the deck height at critical points. The result was around 300 lane metres of space for high top trailers.

STENA EUROPE arrives in Belfast for her 2017 refit. Copyright © Steven Tarbox
STENA EUROPE arrives in Belfast for her 2017 refit. Copyright © Steven Tarbox

2019 Life Extension

During March 2019 STENA EUROPE arrived at the Gemak Shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey, for life extension work with STENA NORDICA providing cover on the Fishguard route. It had been expected that she would return to service on Wednesday 26th June. As of August 14th she has still not left Tuzla. The work being undertaken is understood to be mostly technical with limited changes to the passenger accommodation. Stena Line have confirmed that changes will be made to the deck head on the main deck (deck 3) to allow full-height trailers to be carried across the entire deck rather than just on the port side.

“One of the most significant projects to be undertaken includes modifications to the deckhead levels on the main vehicle deck to allow for the carriage of full-height trailers across the whole of the main vehicle deck. Prior to arrival at the Turkish shipyard, Stena Europe was restricted to carrying full-height trailers on its port side only.

Other works will include the renewal of the majority of the ship’s windows, engine and hull overhauls including blasting the whole hull to remove all the existing old paint work to improve fuel efficiency and the ships appearance. Internally, the passenger stairwells will be revamped, a redesign of the Barista Coffee outlet, as well as upgrades to the passenger Information Desk and other decor improvements.” 

Stena Line statement on the life extension of STENA EUROPE

It has also been reported elsewhere that a modern MES (Marine Evacuation System) is being installed, and steelwork and piping replaced. Pictures have appeared on Facebook showing the vessel stripped back to bare metal, though these have since been deleted. STENA EUROPE is known to have entered and left dry dock on multiple occasions during her spell in Turkey. Most recently she left for Tuzla Anchorage on July 27th, according to some reports for sea trials, but after a while at the anchorage returned to Tuzla.

Stena Line’s Rosslare to Fishguard ferry STENA EUROPE in dry dock at the Gemak shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey. Stena Line.
Stena Line’s Rosslare to Fishguard ferry STENA EUROPE in dry dock at the Gemak shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey. Stena Line.

Return to Service following Life Extension

On August 14th 2019 STENA EUROPE appeared on the Stena Line Freight Live Timetable for the first time on September 1st. In a statement, Stena Line blamed unforeseen technical issues and the need to wait for specialist parts for the delay in STENA EUROPE‘s return to service which was originally scheduled during June.

Stena Line’s Rosslare to Fishguard ferry STENA EUROPE in dry dock at the Gemak shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey. Stena Line.

On September 6, STENA EUROPE appeared to undertake sea trials before heading to Istanbul Anchorage. This is understood to have been to collect bunkers. The following day she set sail for Gibraltar with an ETA of September 12th. Despite having reached speeds in excess of 20 kts, on September 8th STENA EUROPE slowed significantly to around 10 kts. Her ETA in Gibraltar was also changed to the morning of September 14th. This reverted back to the 12th the following day, with the vessel having increased speed again. It is expected that she will bunker at Gibraltar before heading for UK or Irish waters.

Having stopped at Gibraltar to take on bunkers on September 12th as originally expected, STENA EUROPE set course for Liverpool. On arrival on Merseyside on September 15th, she entered the lock at Gladstone Dock and made her way to the spare Ro-Ro berth opposite P&O Ferries’ terminal. After some final work is completed and the vessel receives clearance from the authorities to return to service she is expected to return to her usual Fishguard – Rosslare route. This will allow STENA NORDICA to return to the Baltic.

Notable Incidents

  • On January 30th 2003 STENA EUROPE suffered a failure of all four engines while at sea. The vessel had already been delayed due to weather conditions, with the engine failure happening around 40 minutes into her sailing to Fishguard. The Irish Coastguard activated its emergency plan, however, power was restored to two engines and so the emergency response was stood down. The ship was then diverted to Pembroke rather than Fishguard due to the weather. According to Stena Line this was the first time the vessel ever experienced a breakdown at sea.
  • On October 26 2012 there was a minor collision in Rosslare between STENA EUROPE and Irish Ferries OSCAR WILDE in heavy winds. At the time there were 454 passengers and 71 crew on board STENA EUROPE but there were no serious injuries.

Stena Europe Technical Data

Unless stated otherwise this data is as the vessel was during 2018 prior to her 2019 life-extension work.

 Name

Stena Europe

IMO Number

7901760

Design

Aalborg Vaerft / Sessan Line

Building Yard

gtaverken arendal ab logoGotaverken Arendal, Gothenburg, Sweden

Hull Number

908

Keel laid

11/02/1980

Launched

01/09/1980

Completed

10/04/1981

Classification

DNV-GL 1A1 Car ferry A Ice(1C) MCDK

Conversion – Yard (month/year)
  • Rebuild as a night ferry – Cityvarvet, Gothenburg (03-04/82)
  • Additional cabins added and renamed Stena Saga, Cityvarvet, Gothenburg (04/88)
  • Cabin block removed from the upper deck – Niehuis & van den Berg, Rotterdam (03/94)
  • Refurbishment prior to Lion Ferry service – Wilton, Feyenoord (6/97)
  • Rebuild for Fishguard service.  Cabins removed from upper trailer deck and rebuild of passenger accommodation – Cityvarvet (Damen), Gothenburg (01-03/2002)
  • Harland and wolff HI logoDeck free height increase on the port side of deck 3 to allow carriage of “maxi” trailers – Harland and Wolff, Belfast (01/2017)
  • Gemak Shipyard logoLife Extension.  Full technical overhaul and raising of the deckhead across the remainder of the main vehicle deck – Gemak Shipyard Tuzla, Tuzla, Turkey (03/19 – 09/19 )
In service (original)

April 1981

In service (Current route)

March 2002

Call sign (Present)

VSTA3

Length overall

149.02m

Beam

26.53m

Draught

6.14m

Gross Tonnage (as built)

14,378

Gross Tonnage (2018)

24,828

Machinery
  • Wartsila logo4 x NOHAB Wärtsilä-Vasa 12-cyl. 12V32 diesel engines geared in pairs through Lohmann and Stolterfoht GVA1600 SO reduction gear (one per side) driving twin KaMeWa controllable pitch propellers
  • KaMeWa logo2 x KaMeWa 2000/AS bow thruster units
Power (Max)

15,360kW

Operational design speed

20 Kts

Capacity (As built)
  • 2100 passengers
  • 700 cars or equivalent freight
Capacity (Present)
  • 1,400 passengers
  • 1,120 lm of freight or 480 cars
Vehicle deck configuration

Twin vehicle decks accessed via 3 stern doors and one bow door.  Single level loading and unloading through bow door on main deck, twin level loading via stern ramps.

Onboard Facilities in use

 

 

  • Inside and outside cabins with en-suite facilities (chargeable extra)
  • Stena Plus (chargeable extra)
  • Met grill
  • C-view bar
  • Barista coffee lounge
  • Family area including children’s play area
  •  Stena Shopping
  • Cinema
  • Bureau de change
  • Freight drivers lounge
  • Wi-Fi @ Sea
Flag (Current)

UK flag - red ensignUK (Fishguard)

Former names
  • Kronprinsessan Victoria (as-built)
  • Stena Saga
  • Stena Europe
  • Lion Europe

 Additional photographs

Stena Europe in dry dock at Belfast 12/2/15. Copyright © Scott Mackey (Flickr)
Stena Europe in dry dock at Belfast 12/2/15. Copyright © Scott Mackey (Flickr)
Stena Line's veteran Fishguard to Rosslare ferry STENA EUROPE seen during 2018. Stena Line.
Stena Line’s veteran Fishguard to Rosslare ferry STENA EUROPE seen during 2018. Stena Line.

Original Article: 03.01.17
Last Text Update: 09.09.19

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