Nordica return to Poland – for now?
UPDATE 25.04.22: Following the full resumption of P&O Ferries services between Larne and Cairnryan earlier today, STENA NORDICA left Cairnryan bound for Karlskrona (Sweden) this afternoon. She is currently timetabled to restart sailings on her usual Karlskrona – Gdynia route on Thursday night (28 April.)
Stena Line’s freight timetable currently shows the STENA NORDICA resuming Karlskrona – Gdynia sailings on 28 April. The vessel’s period on the Belfast – Cairnryan route has recently been extended until 24 April.
STENA GOTHICA, which has been covering the STENA NORDICA’s Polish sailings, went to dry-dock at Remontowa, Gdańsk on 15 April. The vessel is due to be the second ship on Stena Line’s new Nynäshamn – Hanko route. She had been expected to enter service at the start of May, but the latest date shown on the freight timetable is 23 May.
With the news that Stena Line plans to introduce the two 240-metre E-flexers to the Gdynia – Karlskrona route in July and November this year, it isn’t clear what the future fleet line-up will be on this service. The current full-time fleet is STENA VISION, STENA SPIRIT, STENA NORDICA and STENA VINGA.
STENA VINGA is currently shown as returning to her previous Gothenburg – Frederikshavn route in July. However, it isn’t yet clear which vessels of the ‘Vision, ‘Spirit and ‘Nordica will be retained operate alongside the newbuilds.
Sister switch for Birkenhead route
On the morning of Easter Monday, 18 April, the Stena RoRo owned STENA FORECASTER left her two-week dry-dock at Harland & Wolff, Belfast. The vessel had arrived at Belfast following the end of her P&O Ferries Liverpool – Dublin charter.
Her place in dry-dock will be taken by sister-ship STENA FORETELLER tomorrow.
STENA FORECASTER, in turn, has taken up service on Stena Line’s Belfast – Birkenhead route. Her first sailing was the afternoon sailing from Belfast today, 19 April. The freight timetable currently shows a return for STENA FORETELLER on 25 April.
STENA FORECASTER’s future is unknown after her refit cover. As a Stena RoRo vessel, she may see further service on the Stena Line network or a charter to an external operator.
There is currently a lack of idle roro vessels, making it unlikely the ship will be without work in any event.
STENA FORECASTER is no stranger to the Belfast – Birkenhead route. The ship filled the unaccompanied freighter role on the route from February 2019 until Spring 2020 when Covid impacted traffic levels. This resulted in the vessel being laid up at Belfast then Uddevalla, Sweden. Forecaster’s 18-month P&O Ferries charter began in October 2020.
Further delay for the Stena Horizon
Meanwhile, the STENA HORIZON continues to remain at dry-dock in Belfast. Her return to service was already postponed from 12 to 19 April and is now not shown as sailing until 28 April. The Italian-flagged Visentini vessel has been at Belfast since 29 March.
During the original period of her refit, STENA HORIZON’s place was covered on the Rosslare – Cherbourg service by the STENA ESTRID. However, Easter traffic pressures seen the later vessel return to the Holyhead – Dublin route on 11 April. This has left SEATRUCK PANORAMA alone on the route, providing an unaccompanied freight only service.
The work being carried out to the STENA HORIZON appears to be quite extensive. Work has included 3,000m2 of vehicle deck successfully captive blasted and treated with a protective paint system. This was along with 200m2 of Bimagrip anti-skid works to the vessel’s ramps. This work was carried out by JMS Lincoln. Their Marine Specialist Surface Coatings Division now handles a significant proportion of all such work to ferries in UK waters.
There has also been an investment in the STENA HORIZON’s passenger accommodation, full details of which will follow on NIFS in due course.