Stena Line is to base its four new ro-pax ferries on the Belfast routes in the Irish Sea when they debut in 2019 and 2020.
Ordered at AVIC Shipyard in China last year, the four newbuilds will accommodate around 1,000 guests and offer a full range of passenger services, as well as more than 3,000 lane metres for vehicles.
“The routes to and from Belfast are strategically very important to Stena Line and during the last number of years we have made significant investments in ports and vessels to improve and develop our capacity offering a frequent high quality service for our customers to and from Belfast,” said Niclas Mårtensson, the company’s CEO. “Looking ahead, we intend to continue our ambitious development plan for our business in the region and the new vessels are a part of this strategic plan.”
These new vessels will be the largest ferries ever to operate between Belfast and Great Britain.
“We are delighted that Stena Line is planning for Belfast as the location for its next generation of ro-pax vessels in what is a significant investment in, and enhancement of, Northern Ireland’s premier freight and tourism gateway,” said Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s commercial director. “Belfast Harbour has worked in close partnership with Stena Line over the last two decades to help it expand its Belfast routes into a flourishing hub and this very welcome investment news comes on the back of a record year for Stena Line’s freight business in Belfast Harbour.”
Stena’s new ferries will be powered by gas-ready engines, which can be fuelled by either methanol or LNG.
“The new ro-pax vessels will be among the most fuel efficient in the world with approximately 25% lower carbon dioxide emissions per cargo unit than current ro-pax tonnage,” said Mårtensson. “Our aim is to lead the development of sustainability within the shipping industry and set a new industry standard when it comes to operational performance, emissions and cost competitiveness.”
Stena Line also has the option for another four vessels.