The largest member of Stena’s E-Flexer ferry class to-date was delivered in China earlier today, slightly ahead of schedule. Named STENA ESTELLE, The 239.7m-long vessel is currently undergoing final preparations for her delivery voyage to Europe.
Once readied for service, STENA ESTELLE will be deployed on the Karlskrona (Sweden) – Gdynia (Poland) route. The new ship has capacity for up to 1,200 passengers and 3,587 lane metres of freight, with space for 200 cars in a seperate garage adjacent to the passenger spaces.
Due to continuing Covid-19 restrictions in China, several participants in the signing ceremony attended via remote video link. This included the CEO of Stena RoRo, Per Westling, and Nicklas Martensson, CEO of Stena Line.
More Capacity for Polish Route
At the time of writing Stena Line has not confirmed which of the four vessels currently serving the Gdynia route STENA ESTELLE will replace. Presently the main passenger vessels on the route, STENA SPIRIT and STENA VISION, are supported by both STENA VINGA and STENA NORDIA to accommodate freight demand. STENA ESTELLE and her yet to be delivered (and unnamed) sister have far greater freight capacity than any of the current vessels on the route, and so it is possible that they could replace more than one vessel each.
Under a previous plan which would have seen STENA ESTELLE and her sister release STENA BALTICA and STENA SCANDICA from the Nynashamn – Ventspils service for the Gdynia route, Stena Line had indicated to retain at least a third vessel at Gdynia.
While the Karlskrona – Gdynia route remains popular with leisure passengers, some of this traffic is attracted with discount fares, such as mini-cruise offers, designed to increase passenger loads to cover the costs of operating ships with a large passenger capacity.
Cleaner as well as longer
STENA ESTELLE is built to the Stena E-Flexer MkII design, a lengthened version of the original E-Flexer platform. To achieve the extra length, an additional 25.2 metre section is inserted into the centre of the vessel. STENA ESTELLE is also the first E-Flexer to be delivered with a shore power connection. This will slash emissions in port as the ship will be able to turn off her engines when shore power is available. To improve manoeuvrability in port, a third bow thruster was also added to the design. STENA ESTELLE will use the new ferry port at Gdynia. which has been built to accommodate 240m long vessels and has a shore power connection installed, the first in Poland. A shore power connection has been in use at Karlskrona since 2011.
‘Estelle is the fourth E-Flexer ferry to be delivered to Stena Line and the seventh to be delivered overall. Despite being the longest in the series to-date, she was also the quickest to be assembled when floated out, highlighting one of the key benefits of series production. It took just 105 days to assemble all of the blocks that form the hull and superstructure together before STENA ESTELLE was moved to the outfitting quay. This was despite delivery delays of key components from Europe due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the blocking of the Suez Canal.