According to various posts on social media and elsewhere, Stena Line’s Ro-Pax ferry STENA NORDICA is to make a return to Holyhead next month. The former P&O Irish Sea vessel is no stranger to Holyhead or the Irish Sea. She was previously a permanent vessel on both P&O and Stena Line Dublin services. The ship has also provided refit cover across Stena Line’s Irish Sea passenger network in the past. It had been expected that STENA NORDICA would return to her former Karlskrona – Gdynia route in May in order to allow STENA BALTICA to release STENA VISION for warm-layup, but posts on social media indicate this will now not happen until July. Events on the Irish Sea appear to have forced Stena’s hand.
One of the Irish Sea’s newest ferries, STENA ESTRID, has been suffering mechanical issues. These require her to be taken out of service to be correctly rectified. It is believed that STENA ESTRID has actually been running on one engine for the past few weeks, something her track on AIS would appear to verify. The ship and her E-Flexer class-mates like STENA EDDA are all capable of maintaining a service speed of 18 knots on one engine and propeller and are also fully Safe Return to Port compliant. This means they should be able to return to port under their own power in almost all circumstances.
With freight volumes lower than usual and passenger volumes minimal due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, now would appear to be the ideal time to take the ship out of service. As a result, STENA NORDICA has been brought in following the conclusion of a charter to the UK Ministry of Transport throughout which she appears to have remained in Rotterdam. ‘Nordica’ will replace STENA ESTRID on the schedule until she returns to her route. Afterwards it is expected that she will release STENA EUROPE from the Rosslare – Fishguard route for her own period of maintenance. STENA NORDICA is expected to return ‘home’ to Poland after more than a year away during July.