Overview of Stena Forerunner
STENA FORERUNNER is a large RoRo freighter ordered as one of a trio of Stena 4-Runner Mk II vessels in 1999 from the Dalian ‘old’ Shipyard in China. She was the final of the trio of enlarged Mk II vessels to be delivered. Her sister-vessels are STENA FORETELLER and STENA FORECASTER. As-built she has the capacity for some 3,000 lane metres of freight, however, there is the provision in the design for this to be extended to 4,150 lane metres through the addition of an additional deck above the existing weather deck should it be required in the future. As all versions of the 4-Runner class are designed for flexibility in their cargo handling capability, headroom on the main deck is a generous 6.8m, increasing to some 8.1m metres in the after-most part. This means STENA FORERUNNER and her sisters can handle MAFI’s, cassettes, containers, and other outsized loads as well as normal trailers in both commercial and military scenarios.
The Stena 4-Runner Mk II class are capable of a service speed of 18 knots using just two of their four Wärtsilä-built Sulzer 8-cylinder ZA 40S diesel main engines. Service speed increases to 20 knots using three of the main engines, and tops out at 22.5 knots when using all four main engines. This is half a knot more than the smaller 4-Runner Mk I class despite the exact same engines being specified, a characteristic attributed to the longer hull on the Mk II design being more efficient through the water.
In early-2015 STENA FORERUNNER became the first vessel in the Stena RoRo fleet to be fitted with exhaust scrubbers, when a “hybrid-ready” open loop system was fitted to two of her four main engines. From October 2003 to early-January 2018 STENA FORERUNNER was chartered to Transfennica. On returning to Stena she was deployed on the UK to Holland service between Harwich and Rotterdam (Europoort) for Stena subsidiary Stena Line.
On August 1st 2018 Stena Line announced that STENA FORERUNNER would be transferring to the Belfast – Liverpool (Birkenhead) service from the end of August in place of STENA PRECISION. She is expected to return to the North Sea early in 2019, likely replaced with one of her sister or near-sister ships of the Stena 4-Runner Mk I or Mk II class. STENA FORERUNNER‘s first voyage between Belfast and Birkenhead on 27th August 2018 arrived almost 12 hours late at around 11am on the 28th due to what was reported to be issues with her starboard propulsion. This was rectified alongside after arrival at Birkenhead however, with the vessel going to anchor before resuming service with the 03:30 departure back to Belfast the following day having missed just one round trip.
On Saturday 5th January 2019 after discharging at Birkenhead, STENA FORERUNNER sailed for Rosslare instead of laying over for the weekend as usual. This was to cover the absence of STENA NORDICA which had been due to enter service as relief vessel on the Rosslare to Cherbourg route earlier in the week but had been delayed despite arriving in Ireland on time. In 2017 part-sister STENA CARRIER had been the relief vessel on the Cherbourg route. STENA FORERUNNER returned to the Birkenhead route in time to resume her normal schedule on Monday 7th.
Replacement at Belfast
When she was introduced Stena Line stated that they intended to replace STENA FORERUNNER at Belfast with a “similar” vessel in “early-2019”, releasing her to return to her previous North Sea route. As a result of this STENA FORERUNNER retained her Dutch registry and crew during her spell on the Irish Sea, unlike STENA SCOTIA which transferred to Belfast from the North Sea at a similar time. STENA FORERUNNER left Belfast for the last time on Friday 8th February on what was her final crossing to Birkenhead. She arrived in Birkenhead the following