Stena Hibernia in Belfast Lough.

Stena Hibernia first of 9 Stena Line vessels to visit Harland and Wolff.

Stena Line kicked off their 2017 Irish Sea refit programme today (Wednesday), with Stena Hibernia making the short journey across the River Lagan to Harland and Wolff's 'Belfast Dry Dock'.

Stena Superfast VII dry docked at Belfast during 2016. Stena Line.

Stena Europe will be next to go for refit on Jan 4th, covered by Stena Nordica which is returning to the Irish Sea as the refit cover vessel this year. This follows spells on the English Channel and Mediterranean with DFDS and GNV respectively, following her displacement on the Dublin to Holyhead route by Stena Superfast X.  Stena Nordica is of course a part-sister ship to P&O's European Causeway and European Highlander, having been built for P&O as European Ambassador.

Stena Nordica swinging of her Belfast berth in 2013, while providing refit cover. Copyright © Alan Geddes.
Stena Nordica swinging of her Belfast berth in 2013, while providing refit cover. Copyright © Alan Geddes.

£7m contract

It is expected that the Stena Line Irish Sea refit programme for 2017 will run until early next May. As reported previously, Harland and Wolff secured a £7m contract to carry out the work on 9 of the 11 vessels in the current Stena Irish Sea fleet.  The 2 remaining vessels, Stena Horizon and Stena Adventurer, both dry docked at Belfast last year.  Stena Horizon recently had some refurbishment work carried out while in service, creating a seperate freight drivers lounge and "Met Bar and Grill' for travel passengers on the ship for the first time.

Stena Horizon in dry-dock at Belfast, January 2016. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

Stena Nordica to return to Belfast?

Once Stena Europe returns from Belfast, it is expected she will release Stena Nordica to cover Stena Horizon on the Rosslare to Cherbourg route which will release the Belfast to Birkenhead vessels in turn to go to Harland and Wolff.  Speculation suggests that Stena Nordica will relieve Stena Superfast VII and VIII on the Belfast to Cairnryan route rather than Stena Superfast X, as last year.

Revised livery

As part of the dry docking it is expected that all vessels will receive the revised Stena livery with the new "Connecting Europe for a Sustainable Future" strap-line, as unveiled on Stena Britannica last month.

Stena Britannica emerged from the Damen shipyard in Rotterdam as the first vessel with Stena's revised livery. ​​This is the new standard Stena Line livery and it is to be implemented on their vessels in connection with planned dockings. Stena Line

Title image: Stena Hibernia sailing along Belfast Lough towards Belfast.  Copyright © Steven Tarbox.

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