Former Belfast – Liverpool ferry STENA LAGAN is to be laid up until further notice after her lengthening/conversion project was postponed until a later date. Stena Line has told Shippax (paywalled) that the project has been delayed by about six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sister-ship STENA MERSEY is to remain in service between Belfast and Liverpool (Birkenhead) until the arrival of the routes second Stena E-Flexer, STENA EMBLA, from her builders.
STENA EMBLA is still expected to arrive early in the new year and is currently being fitted out. Previously it had been planned that STENA MERSEY would be released from the route at the end of this summer by another ship from the Stena Line fleet.
Having already arrived at the shipyard in Tuzla for the project to begin, STENA LAGAN left Turkey for the Greek port of Piraeus on May 22. Just yesterday this was reported by Shippax to be for a crew change with Stena confirming the ship would be returning to Tuzla after. STENA LAGAN was released by her brand new replacement STENA EDDA during March. She left Birkenhead for Turkey on March 14, and arrived at Tuzla anchorage before the end of that month. On April 17 she sailed the short distance to the shipyard where she had remained until leaving for Piraeus. The ship left for Limassol a short time ago, where it is thought she will lay up.
An ambitious project
No work has yet been done to STENA LAGAN according to the Shippax report. The ship was to have been lengthened by about 36 metres and converted to twin-level-drive-through loading. Stena have reiterated to Shippax that both STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY will be returning to Stena Line service after their lengthening. They have still yet to confirm which route they will serve though Belfast – Liverpool has been ruled out..
The ambitious rebuild project will see both vessels extended to 222.6m in length. As a result their vehicle carrying capacity will be increased with over 600 lane metres of additional freight space as well as increased space for passenger cars. Passenger capacity will be similar to their design capacity of 970. In Stena Line service this has been limited to 720 for “passenger comfort”, however. An additional 74 cabins are also to be fitted, and the ships will also gain the capability to load through both the bow and stern on two levels. The rebuild will give STENA LAGAN and STENA MERSEY a similar overall capacity to the Stena E-Flexer class.
Turkey has been subject to strict measures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with many nationalities totally banned from entering the country. The population has also be subject to curfews and whole cities have been isolated from the rest of the country at times. Restrictions have started to be eased however, with the elderly allowed to leave their homes for a second time since the crisis began on May 17. The country is currently subject to a four day long lockdown during the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday, however.