Update 21.12.2020 @ 16:00: STENA FORETELLER left Loch Ryan Port (Cairnryan) for Rosslare a short time ago.
Stena Line has announced that it is to deploy STENA FORETELLER on its Rosslare – Cherbourg route from tomorrow. The announcement comes after France closed its borders to accompanied freight traffic and passengers from the UK last night due to concerns over a new COVID-19 strain. Previously it had been intended that the freight-only vessel would start on the route in January.
The border closure has hugely impacted Dover and Folkestone where accompanied freight traffic is the norm. Around 10,000 trucks per day have been moving through Dover alone in recent days, the bulk of them accompanied. It has been reported that up to 250 Irish trucks could be stuck in the UK as a result of the sudden action by European governments.
Belgium and the Netherlands have also closed their borders with the UK for passengers. However, both accompanied and unaccompanied freight are still currently allowed but services are already full. EU ambassadors are holding a crisis meeting today to discuss the travel bans.
Some services from Dover are still running, however these are only carrying unaccompanied traffic to France. Accompanied traffic is being accepted in the opposite direction, but drivers are unable to return directly to France.
Additionally, volumes travelling between Ireland and Great Britain are already exceptionally high, with space hard to secure for both accompanied and unaccompanied freight. This is despite passenger traffic being much lower than usual due to restrictions on passengers entering Ireland from Great Britain.
Neither Irish Ferries or Stena Line are currently carrying passengers from Wales to Ireland. Only essential travel is allowed from Ireland to Wales. Freight drivers with a valid EU Annex 3 International Transport Worker Certificate can continue to travel in both directions.
According to an Irish Times journalist, DFDS is ‘considering’ bringing forward the start of its Rosslare – Dunkerque route but it is unlikely they will be able to secure tonnage in time. The company had intended to start its new service using a mix of chartered and owned tonnage on January 2. All three ships are currently located in the Baltic.
Two Sailings Tomorrow
Stena Line intends to offer two sailings from Rosslare to Cherbourg tomorrow. The Ro-Ro STENA FORETELLER is expected to depart at 18:00, arriving in Cherbourg at 12:00 on Wednesday. Regular ship, STENA HORIZON, is currently scheduled to leave Rosslare at 22:00. STENA FORETELLER is currently at Loch Ryan Port (Cairnryan) where she is laying over after a stint on the Belfast – Liverpool route covering the absence of STENA EDDA.
Confirming the additional sailings, Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line said:
“The developments of the last few days in terms of border closures have put enormous strains on the logistics industry. Our Rosslare-Cherbourg service is the shortest direct crossing between Ireland and France, and I’m delighted to see that our operational team on the Irish Sea have been able to ‘fast-track’ the introduction of the Stena Foreteller, providing vital additional capacity in the run up to Christmas.”
“We have developed a reputation for keeping vital supply lines open for food and medical supplies throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and once more we have shown our flexibility and expertise in being able to react swiftly to market demands. We are currently experiencing huge demand for our direct services to the Continent with our North Sea vessels (ex Killingholme and Harwich) being oversubscribed by a multiple of three.”
“From tomorrow (18:00 hrs ex Rosslare) we will provide 12 weekly crossings connecting Rosslare and Cherbourg and up to 240 sailings per week throughout the Irish Sea region, offering transport organisations and their customers the flexibility, availability and reliability they require at this time.”Stena Line press release
Glenn Carr, General Manager, Rosslare Europort said:
“This is obviously a critical time for Irish industry, and as Port Authority, we are determined, working in partnership with Stena Line, to offer alternatives to those whose supply chains are impacted by the newly introduced restrictions to the landbridge. We welcome Stena Line’s response in quickly arranging additional capacity on the Rosslare Europort to Cherbourg route, and we will continue our efforts to respond effectively as COVID-19 measures impact Irish business.”
Stena Foreteller key data
Gross Tonnage 24 688 tonnes
Deadweight: 12 500 tonnes
Freight Capacity: 3 000 lane metres of freight
Freight Drivers: 12 Freight drivers in single berth cabins