Weekly roundup 19/12/15

By: Steven Tarbox
Last updated:
Buquebus' InCat Express, laid up at Belfast's Albert Quay, following the completion of some 15 years of service for P&O. Copyright © Steven Tarbox 2015.
Buquebus' InCat EXPRESS , laid up at Belfast's Albert Quay, following the completion of some 15 years of service for P&O. At the time of writing (October 2017) she was the final fast-craft to operate between Northern Ireland and Scotland Copyright © Steven Tarbox 2015.

A quick roundup of some this weeks ferry industry news stories, both local and further afield.

Local ferry news.

Bye bye Express.

P&O's Express pictured leaving Larne on Easter Monday during her final year in service.
P&O’s Express pictured leaving Larne on Easter Monday 2015 during her final year in service. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

The former P&O Larne – Troon vessel Express finally left Belfast on Wednesday following her layover following her final service to Troon in October, and subsequent sale by owners Buquebus to Swedish interests following P&O’s decision not to renew her charter.  She is currently laid over in Helsingborg and is expected to enter service for Gotlandsbåten between Gotland and the Swedish Mainland in March 2016.  Notably an article promoting a £50 discount for fans travelling to France for Euro 2016 via P&O’s Larne and Dover services makes no mention of a Troon service for next year (but does specifically mention Cairnryan), giving further rise to speculation the service may not return next season.

UK ferry news

DFDS to operate Newhaven route for a further 2 years.

Côte d'Albâtre is one of the pair of Spanish built ferries owned by SMPAT and operated by DFDS between Newhaven and Dieppe.
Côte d’Albâtre is one of the pair of Spanish built ferries owned by SMPAT and operated by DFDS between Newhaven and Dieppe. DFDS

SMPAT, the French local government owned organisation, and DFDS have announced that the Danish operator will operate the Newhaven to Dieppe route for a further 2 years until the end of 2017.  It had previously been announced that SMPAT themselves would operate the route from the end of this year.  The route is served by the SMPAT owned ships Côte d’Albâtre and Seven Sisters.

Eurotunnel barred from operating any ferries to France.

MyFerryLink ferries Berlioz and Rodin sold to DFDS
MyFerryLink ferries Berlioz and Rodin captured back in 2012. DFDS have chartered the pair of former SeaFrance vessels from Groupe Eurotunnel, however the remaining vessel Nord-Pas-de-Calais remains without an operator following the UK Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ruling preventing Eurotunnel from operating any ferry service from Dover. Photograph Copyright © Scott Mackey.

At what seems to be the end of a long and drawn out legal process involving at various stages the UK authorities, the French SCOP-SeaFrance workers cooperative, DFDS, P&O, and Groupe Eurotunnel (GET), the UK Supreme Court has ruled Eurotunnel cannot operate any ferries from the UK port of Dover to France.

Following the collapse of MyFerryLink and the charter of the former MyFerryLink vessels Rodin and Berlioz from GET by DFDS, Eurotunnel had applied to run the remaining former MyFerryLink vessel Nord-Pas-de-Calais between Dover and France themselves in order to offer a service for the hazardous cargo which cannot be carried through the Channel Tunnel.  However, following the Supreme Court decision GET have announced they intend to put the Nord-Pas-de-Calais up for sale.

However, NIFS understand that due to the terms attached to the sale of the former SeaFrance assets to GET, Eurotunnel will need permission from the Paris Court of Commerce to sell the ship.  This is due to the original sale of the former SeaFrance vessels to Eurotunnel being on the condition that they could not sell any of the vessels until 2017. Nord-Pas-de-Calais is currently laid up at Dunkerque.

Wirral ferry terminal could close

Royal Iris
Royal Iris. Copyright © William Starkey.

It has been revealed this week that the new Merseytravel 20 year strategy proposes to close either Woodside or Seacombe ferry terminal on the Wirral side of the Mersey in order to reduce losses.  However, the proposals also call for a new and more efficient ferry to be built to operate on the cross river services, as well as a later start to the commuter service from Seacombe.  A decision on the future of the services could be made in early 2016, with approval for the strategy to be sought from local councillors in January. A decision will not be taken on the individual proposals at that stage.

The final TT ‘Blue Riband’ class hits the beach.

By Scillystuff (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Oleander in happier times when she operated between Ramsgate and Ostend.  By Scillystuff (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As reported by NIFS earlier this week, the final James Ayres designed ‘Blue Riband’ class vessel Sherbatskiy (ex Pride of Free Enterprise, Pride of Bruges, P&OSL Picardy, Oleander, etc) was beached for scrap in Alang this week.  She was a sister ship to Spirit of Free Enterprise (later Pride of Kent, P&OSL Kent, Anthi Maria), and the ill fated Herald of Free Enterprise.  The class are notable as being designed specifically for the Townsend Thoresen operations from Dover, and provided the template by which their successor vessels Pride of Dover and Pride of Calais were based on.  They were named the Blue Riband class due to their superior speed to competing vessels, attributed to the unconventional triple propeller layout they were designed with.

European news

Albayzin purchased by Trasmediterranea, Stena extend charter of Baltic based Visentini.


Trasmediterranea has purchased the 1994 Visentini RoPax Albayzin for an undisclosed sum.  Albayzin has been operated by Trasmediterranea since 2010, and currently serves the Tenerife to Las Palmas route.  It is also understood that Stena has opted to extend the charter of the 2009-built Visentini RoPax Scottish Viking for another 3 years.  Scottish Viking currently operates the service between Nynäshamn (Sweden) and Ventspils (Latvia) and is on charter from a company owned by the Visentini family.

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