Stena Line has announced that it is investing in brand-new eco-friendly ferries for its Belfast to Heysham freight route. The two ships, which are expected to be in service before the end of 2025, will increase capacity by 80% according to the company. They have been dubbed the ‘NewMax’ class and will replace STENA HIBERNIA and STENA SCOTIA on the route,
The eco-friendly hybrid ferries, which will be capable of using methanol instead of diesel as fuel, will have an impressive 2,800 lane metres of freight capacity. At 147 m long, the ‘NewMax’ pair will be the longest ferries to operate to Heysham’s constrained harbour. Manoeuvrability is expected to be impressive with three bow thrusters and twisted flap rudders specified.
Freight will be accommodated on four decks: the lower hold (deck 1), main deck (deck 3), upper deck (deck 5), and a large open deck (deck 7). Accommodation is provided for 26 crew and 12 drivers. The ships will have a modest 16.5 knot service speed, reflecting their role as freight ships and the low emission goal.
They will be the highest capacity ferries operating to Heysham, and despite being only 5 m longer than Seatruck Ferries’ FSG-class they will offer around 600 lane metres more freight space . Stena’s ‘NewMax’ will also be slightly wider than the Seatruck vessels with a moulded beam of 25.6m
With technology constantly improving and a public commitment to slash CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030, Stena has considered future proofing in the design of its new Heysham ferries.
In addition to being able to run on cleaner burning methanol fuel, the new ships will also be equipped with batteries and have been designed to take advantage of shore power using a high voltage connection where available. Stena Line is a leader in using methanol as a marine fuel, and has been working to secure future volumes of e-methanol to help reach its emission goals. E-methanol is produced using renewable energy from green hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide.
STENA GERMANICA was the first Ro-Pax ferry in the world to run on methanol when she was converted in 2015. The new ferries have been designed with future electrification in mind.
Five new ferries in five years
Stena’s investment in the two new Heysham ships takes the total tally of brand new Irish Sea ferries from Stena Line to five since the introduction of STENA ESTRID in 2020.
Paul Grant, Stena Line Trade Director said:
“This is very significant day for Belfast – Heysham freight traffic. By adding an extra 80% capacity to the route, Stena Line has responded to growing demands from customers.
We have operated a very popular service on Belfast-Heysham for several years now but with restricted capacity it has been challenging to meet increased market growth. With the extra capacity, we will now be able to significantly enhance our service on this route and complement our Birkenhead, Cairnryan and Holyhead services.”Stena Line Press Release 10 May 2023
Construction of the Heysham ‘NewMax’ ferries is scheduled to start soon. The new ferries were designed by Italian company NAOS, the firm most famous for designing the prolific Visentini Ro-Pax series. Construction will take place at the Weihai facility of China Merchants Jinling – the same yard which built Stena’s E-Flexer class of Ro-Pax ferries.