This profile is for Stena Lagan as she was when she finished service at Belfast during March 2020. A new separate profile will be created for the rebuilt vessel once she is back in service on her new route.
A Brief Introduction to Stena Lagan
STENA LAGAN was a Stena Line owned and operated freight and passenger (Ro-Pax) ferry which was completed in 2005. Until recently she served on the route between Belfast and Liverpool (Birkenhead) with her sister-ship STENA MERSEY. STENA LAGAN and her sister were the largest passenger ships to ever sail on the Belfast to Liverpool route until the arrival of STENA EDDA. A third freight only (Ro-Ro) ferry, STENA FORECASTER, also currently sails on the route adding additional freight capacity.
Until recently, sister-ships STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY spent their entire lives operating together. This was almost exclusively on the route between Belfast and Birkenhead for four different operators. Both ships are expected to leave the Irish Sea during 2020, and will be replaced by the brand-new Stena E-Flexers STENA EDDA and STENA EMBLA. STENA LAGAN has already left the Birkenhead route, going for rebuilding work in Turkey during March 2020.
Once the work is completed she is expected to be allocated to a route elsewhere within the Stena Line network. Her sister is expected to follow her for rebuilding within months. The rebuild of STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY involves lengthening the ships by 36 metres, converting them to twin-level-drive-through loading, and adding an additional 74 cabins. This will increase freight capacity to 2,875 lane metres and allow additional cars to be carried on the dedicated passenger and trade car decks.
STENA LAGAN was built in Italy by Cantiere Navale Visentini and completed in 2005. She was the first vessel in the Visentini Ro-Pax series with the more efficient “FlexBow” hull, making her a third generation Visentini Ro-Pax. All subsequent Visentini Ro-Pax vessels have been based on this hull design. Her first operator was Norse Merchant Ferries. When that company was acquired by Maersk subsidiary Norfolk Line, the ship and route transferred to that operator.
Norfolk Line was acquired by DFDS in 2010 who rebranded the route and ship as their own. The following year the operator of the route changed again with the sale of most of DFDS’s Irish Sea operation to Stena Line. Stena Line would later purchase both STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY outright and refurbish them in their own style. The previous operators had chartered both ships. Initially this had been from Levantina Transporti (a company associated with the builders yard). In November 2008 both ships were sold to a UK subsidiary of Epic Shipping who continued to charter them out for the Birkenhead service.
She was largely unaltered internally since delivery from her builders until 2012 when she and her sister were refurbished and repainted in Stena Line livery at Harland & Wolff at a cost of £4m. Newry-based MJM Marine completed the work inside while the vessel was given an exterior makeover in dry dock at Harland and Wolff.
The following year, a further investment of £4.6m in both ships saw further refurbishment take place. This brought STENA LAGAN and her sister right up to Stena Line standards and looking like new inside and out. Internally the layout of the passenger accommodation remains similar, but the original Studio Ancora designed interior has been replaced with a new design by Stena’s favoured interior designer Figura.
Stena Line has continued to invest in STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY ever since, with the most recent significant change being the enlargement and relocation of the Stena Plus lounge forward, overlooking the bow of the ship, in early 2018.
STENA LAGAN was replaced during March 2020 by the second of Stena Line’s new Stena E-Flexer ferries, STENA EDDA. Once released from the route, she sailed to Turkey to be extended for a new route within the Stena Line network.
Stena Lagan Facilities (March 2020)
- Stena Plus Premium Lounge (chargeable extra)
- Metropolitan Bar and Grill
- Truckers restaurant
- Barista coffee-house
- Childrens play area
- Stena Shopping
- Teen Town (gaming machines)
- Guest Services
- Onboard WiFi (free/chargeable)
- Dog hotel and outside exercise area
- A variety of cabin accommodation including, ‘Comfort Class’, family cabins, and disabled cabins
Deck Layout Plan of Stena Lagan (March 2020)
Stena Lagan Technical Specifications
The following technical information is valid for when the vessel was in service for Stena Line between Belfast and Birkenhead.
|NAOS Ship and Boat Design s.r.l, Trieste, Italy|
|Cantiere Navale de Visentini Francesco & C., Donada, Italy|
|Classification||Lloyds Register of Shipping |
100A1 Roll on-Roll Off Cargo / Passenger Ship
LI Ice Class 1D at a draught of 6.760m
|Interior design as-built||Studio Ancora, Ancona, Italy|
|Interior Design for Stena Irish Sea||Figura Arkitekter AB, Göteborg, Sweden|
|Owner||Stena Line (passed to Stena RoRo after service on Irish Sea completed)|
|Previous owners||Epic Shipping, Hong Kong / UK (until 04.12)|
Levantina Transporti, Italy (until 11.08)
|Current Operator||Stena Line|
|In service (original)||July 2005|
|In service with Stena Line||December 2010|
|Call sign for Stena Irish Sea||2BGR6|
|Previous names and operators||LAGAN VIKING (ii) (Norse Merchant Ferries/Norfolk Line), LAGAN SEAWAYS (DFDS Irish Sea)|
|Machinery||2 x MAN B&W 9L 48/60B Marine Diesel engines, each producing 10,800 kW @ 500 rpm|
3 Caterpillar 3516B Diesel generators each producing 1,825 kW
2 x shaft generators (2,200 kW)
2 x KaMeWa 4.8m diameter CPP propellers
2 x Rolls Royce/KaMeWa TT2000 AUX CP 1,300 kW bow thrusters
2 x Rolls Royce Fin stabilisers
|Power (max)||21,600 kW|
|Maximum passenger capacity||980|
|Stena Line Irish Sea capacity||720 passengers|
|Vehicle decks and capacity||Decks 2, 3, and 4 can accommodate up to 120 trailers with 4.9 metres free height, or a mix of freight and passenger cars|
Deck 6 can accommodate up to 85 passenger cars or small vans with 2.5m free height
Access to the vehicle decks is via a stern door opening on to deck 3. A fixed ramp on the port side gives access between decks 3 and 4 and deck 3 and 6. An additional fixed ramp covered by a hatch gives access between deck 3 and the lower hold below.
(Click here for the onboard gallery)
|Stena Plus Premium Lounge|
Metropolitan Bar and Grill
Barista Coffee House
Children’s Play Area
Teen Town gaming machines
Dog hotel and outside exercise area
A range of cabins including family cabins and disabled cabins.
WiFi Internet (chargeable/free)
|Flag 2008-2020||United Kingdom (Belfast)|
|Flag until 2008||Italy (Bari)|
History of Stena Lagan
STENA LAGAN was originally delivered to Levantina Transporti Srl as LAGAN VIKING (ii) for charter to Norse Merchant Ferries in 2005. She was the first of two identical sister-ships for for their Belfast to Birkenhead route, and entered service on July 19th that year. The new ships were the latest development of a proven formula designed by NAOS Design and built by Cantiere Navale Visentini in Italy.
A New Design
STENA LAGAN was ordered by Norse Merchant Group as a replacement for the smaller Visentini Ro-Pax LAGAN VIKING (i), which had less passenger accommodation than the new vessel. Along with MERSEY VIKING (ii) (later STENA MERSEY), she was the first in a new generation of Ro-Pax ferries delivered by Visentini.
LAGAN VIKING (ii) was the first vessel to be built to the third major revision to the Visentini Ro-Pax design. From a technical point of view the main innovation in this new series compared to the previous Visentini Ro-Pax ferries was the “FlexBow” hull design. FlexBow is a fuel efficient bow design developed by NAOS Design in cooperation with SVA Potsdam.
The FlexBow gives the vessels a much more upright bow profile than the earlier generations of Visentini vessels and is designed to reduce the drag created by the hull as the vessel moves through the water. This reduction in drag helped LAGAN VIKING (ii) achieve some 25.5kts in her sea trials with just 21,600kW of engine power.
In addition to the FlexBow hull, the new ships also featured the revised forward superstructure shape of the second generation ships EURO STAR VALENCIA, EURO STAR SALERNO, GOLFO ARANCI, and GOLFO DELGI ANGELI – the previous 4 Visentini Ro-Pax ships delivered. The passenger accommodation was significantly larger than on the ships they replaced and could accommodate 980 passengers (compared to less than 400).
Visentini and NAOS retained Studio Ancora as interior designer and IGI Allestimenti as outfitter like on the previous ships and so the interior was fitted out in a similar style. With the arrival of LAGAN VIKING (ii), LAGAN VIKING (i) was renamed LIVERPOOL VIKING and moved to the Dublin – Liverpool route.
During October 2005 Norse Merchant Ferries was acquired by Maersk and was merged into their Norfolk Line ferry and logistics business. Both vessels continued to be chartered by Norfolk Line, however, and remained on the same route. Despite having a new operator the colour scheme of the Birkenhead ships didn’t change. Norfolk Line simply added their own name to the red hull of the Birkenhead ships instead of repainting them in the company’s light blue colour scheme, though the vessels adopted full Norfolk Line funnel colours. In the case of LAGAN VIKING, this happened during February 2006 at Northwestern Shiprepairers Birkenhead (now Cammell Laird)
Onboard, LAGAN VIKING (ii) and her sister barely changed. The Norse Merchant signage was simply covered over with vinyl rather than replaced, while the passenger accommodation remained as it had since the ships were delivered . Three years later in 2008, both LAGAN VIKING (ii) and her sister were sold by Levantina to subsidiaries of Hong Kong-based EPIC shipping (Lagan Viking Ltd / Mersey Viking Ltd), though the charter to Norfolk Line continued as before.
The new owner adopted the British flag for the vessels, with Belfast their new home port. Previously both vessels had Bari as their home port. The ships also moved to Lloyds Register of Shipping from RINA.
DFDS Irish Sea
Ownership of the Belfast to Birkenhead route changed again in July 2010 when Norfolk Line was purchased by DFDS, with LAGAN VIKING (ii) becoming LAGAN SEAWAYS the following month during a refit at Harland & Wolff. The Irish Sea business was grouped together under “DFDS Seaways Irish Sea Limited”. Unlike her sister, ‘Lagan’ was also repainted in DFDS’s blue and white colour scheme.
This was the first time her original red hull colour had changed since it was painted at her builders yard. Some DFDS branding was introduced onboard from August 2010, with DFDS logos appearing on new signage for instance. An area on the port side promenade deck was turned into a “Dog Lodge”, with dog kennels and an exercise area provided for passengers travelling with their dogs.
From February 2011 the company stopped including evening meals in the price of an overnight fare, a feature of the route which dated all the way back to when predecessor company Norse Irish Ferries started taking non-commercial drivers as passengers.
The new livery would be short-lived, however, as DFDS agreed to sell DFDS Seaways Irish Sea to Stena Line just a few months after acquiring the Norfolk Line business. LAGAN SEAWAYS retained her name for a while while the transaction awaited regulatory approval, though her funnel was repainted from DFDS colours to Stena’s and the “DFDS Seaways” lettering on her hull painted over. From August 2011 following approval of Stena’s purchase of the DFDS Belfast routes, LAGAN SEAWAYS became STENA LAGAN.
Goodbye Original Interior
During February and March 2012 a comprehensive refit was undertaken at Harland & Wolff for both vessels. This saw both ships painted in Stena Line livery and refurbished by MJM Marine. STENA MERSEY was first to go for refit in February, with STENA LAGAN following in March.
Stena Line brands such as “The Metropolitan Bar & Grill” and “Barista” had been introduced prior to the refit, but the decor had remained largely unaltered. This changed during the 2012 refit with a comprehensive refurbishment of the public spaces to a design by Figura Arkitekter, with a “Stena Plus lounge” and “Pod Lounge” added. Significantly, commercial drivers and leisure passengers got totally separate dining areas. The former “Road Kings” self-service restaurant was now just for commercial drivers while other passengers got table service at the rebranded Metropolitan Bar and Grill.
Photos © Scott Mackey
A combined £4m was spent on the two sister-ships 2012 refits, with STENA FERONIA (ex MERSEY VIKING (i)) returning to her former route as relief ship. Unfortunately some of the work was undertaken while the vessels were still in service, leading to complaints from passengers. Notably this was highlighted during an episode of “Undercover Boss”. Part of the episode shows Stena Line CEO Gunnar Blomdahl working undercover on STENA MERSEY as the work took place and witnessing the reaction of passengers! Ownership of both STENA LAGAN and her sister changed again during May 2012 after Stena purchased both vessels outright following financial difficulties at EPIC Shipping.
Even more improvements
2013 saw a further large refit of both vessels, again at Harland & Wolff. The former bar counter retained from the Norse Merchant days in the Met Bar and Grill was replaced with a food servery with separate bar facilities to the side. This was in response to customer feedback and allowed quicker service as customers could take away the most popular dishes at the time of payment. Previously customers had to wait on food being delivered directly from the galley. A “News Room” and “Living Room” were created, and cabin options increased with the addition of five “Comfort Class” cabins on each ship. The outside and family cabins onboard were also upgraded.
A combined £4.6m was spent on the 2013 refit of STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY which were now fully upgraded to Stena Line standards, and unrecognisable from their Norse Merchant days. Refurbishment work on the crew accommodation areas was undertaken later during 2013 with local company MPE Interiors doing the work while the vessels were alongside at Birkenhead. As part of the continual improvement programme on the route, the passenger cabins on STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY were further refurbished in 2015 (see video below).
The first major change in the layout of the passenger facilities since 2012/13 came in 2018 with the relocation and enlargement of the Stena Plus Lounge. The new larger facility replaced the forward part of the Met Bar and Grill seating area overlooking the bow and occupies a similar amount of space to the freight drivers restaurant adjacent, also overlooking the bow. The area previously occupied by Stena Plus was thus returned to use as part of the Met Bar and Grill.
On March 14, 2020, STENA LAGAN left Liverpool for Tuzla in Turkey where she will be extended by just over 36m and rebuilt with additional passenger accommodation. On March 31, STENA LAGAN‘s flag was changed from the UK to The Bahamas while at Tuzla Anchorage waiting to enter the shipyard.
Stena Lagan Gallery
Below is a small selection of images to give a flavour of what STENA LAGAN looked like inside on the Belfast – Liverpool (Birkenhead) service. For a more detailed look, visit our Look Inside Stena Lagan/Mersey special feature. STENA LAGAN will be rebuilt in Turkey during 2020, and so her internal appearance is likely to change.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Stena Lagan was completed in 2005 at Cantiere Navale di Visentini Francesco & C., Donada, Italy.
This is currently yet to be publicly announced.
While this has not been confirmed it is highly likely she will be renamed as Stena Line have stated she will not be returning to the Belfast – Birkenhead route.
Stena Lagan was originally delivered as ‘Lagan Viking’ for Norse Merchant Ferries. She kept that name when Norse Merchant was taken over by Maersk but became ‘Lagan Seaways’ when Norfolk Line was taken over by Maersk.