Ferry order book: The continuing march of the E-Flexers

Global interest in Stena RoRo’s adaptable ro-pax ferry concept shows no sign of abating as Justin Merrigan reports

Ferry order book: The continuing march of the E-Flexers
Marine Atlantic’s new E-Flexer will join the fleet in 2024 on the route between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia

The global ferry order book in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review, discussed five Stena RoRo E-Flexer ferries. On long-term charter to DFDS, Côte d’Opale has now made her debut between Dover, England and Calais, France, while Brittany Ferries’ next E-Flexer, the LNG-powered Salamanca, is currently under construction at the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard. She will be followed by what was expected to be the final vessel in the series, Santoña.  

Since then, however, Stena RoRo has inked contracts for another three E-Flexers, confirming one charter agreement with Canadian federal Crown corporation Marine Atlantic and another two with Brittany Ferries. Stena RoRo’s evolving platform is proving attractive with multiple operators as it meets the requirements for an optimal hull form combined with dual-fuel engines and a new battery-hybrid solution to minimise emissions.  

E-Flexer 10 will be delivered to Marine Atlantic in 2024 and will run in eastern Canada between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, offering an essential service that is vital to the national supply chain. 

“The new vessel will play an important role in helping us to continue to meet the needs of our customers,” says Gary O’Brien, chair of the board of directors at Marine Atlantic. “The design of the vessel combines key priorities, such as manoeuvrability, safety and accessibility, while minimising environmental impacts, to provide our customers with a modern, efficient and reliable service.”  

Murray Hupman, president and CEO of Marine Atlantic, says: “We are excited to begin the countdown towards accepting the delivery of a new charter vessel for our service. We look forward to working with our partner in this project, Stena RoRo.” 

Stena is no stranger to Marine Atlantic as Per Westling, managing director for Stena RoRo explains. “We delivered one ferry to Marine Atlantic in 2000 and two more in 2010, all of which are still in service. We were successful in executing this new charter contract after a very competitive and extensive procurement process. We are extremely pleased to be able to continue to deliver high quality ships to this important customer.” 

Meanwhile, Stena RoRo’s new long-term charter agreement with Brittany Ferries gave the green light for the construction of E-Flexer 11 and 12 by CMI Jinling Weihai with delivery scheduled for 2024 and 2025 respectively. The ships will operate between Portsmouth, England and Quistreham (Caen) and Saint Malo, France, respectively – two of Brittany Ferries’ primary routes. 

Together with the previously ordered E-Flexers, the new vessels will renew and modernise Brittany Ferries’ fleet. The first ferry, Galicia, was delivered in autumn 2020. The second, Salamanca, will be delivered at the end of the year and the third, Santoña, in 2023.  

Although both E-Flexer 11 and 12 will be able to carry up to 1,400 people, they are not identical, illustrating the adaptability of Stena RoRo’s design. The former will have a capacity of 2,377 lane metres, while the second will have 2,517 lane metres.  

“We are pleased to confirm our two new orders for E-Flexer vessels, which have each proven to be adaptable not only to our specific customer- and market-related needs, but also enable us to take a significant step forward in terms of our strong commitment to sustainability,” says Christophe Mathieu, CEO for Brittany Ferries. 

The most recently ordered E-Flexers are equipped for LNG operation, meaning they can run on LNG, biogas or other new fuels such as ammonia. In addition, they will also be outfitted with a large battery hybrid package for energy consumption of 10 megawatt-hours for propulsion and manoeuvring in port. They will also have an eight-megawatt electric shore power connection for charging the batteries, which will minimise emissions in port. The large battery capacity will enable the ferries to reach speeds of up to 17.5 knots on battery power alone.  

“The advanced and future-proof propulsion system developed for these vessels means that they can be operated with several different types of fuel,” says Westling. “This makes them well prepared for the new fuels not yet commercially available, but that will need to be developed and used in the future.” 

The long-foreshadowed order for two new ro-pax ferries for Australia’s Bass Strait service linking Tasmania with Melbourne, Victoria has at last been signed. Rauma Marine Constructions in Finland will start construction of the new 212-metre-long pair in spring 2022, with the first vessel to be delivered in late 2023 and the second one in late 2024. 

Replacing the 1998-built, 1,140-passenger and 1,852-lane-metre capacity Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, the new 48,000gt LNG-fuelled ferries will accommodate 1,800 passengers and around 2,500 lane metres on two freight decks. As a first for TT-Line Tasmania, the ferries will boast a separate upper car deck. 

“The Bass Strait route is popular with local and foreign tourists alike, and the new vessels’ increased capacity will allow us to meet growing demand when passenger traffic trends recover from the pandemic,” says Bernard Dwyer, CEO of TT-Line.  

According to TT-Line chairman Michael Grainger, the contract will include up to AU$ 100 million ($74 million) of local Australian content. He also says that despite some increases in material costs, at current exchange rates, the building price was likely to be cheaper than the previously negotiated price pre-Covid-19. 

Back in Europe and the second new “Green Ship” for Germany’s TT-Line was launched at CMI Nanjing Jinling in July. The first vessel, Nils Holgersson, is slated for delivery in March 2022. Both ships mark TT’s first to use LNG and have been developed on the basis of its Green Ship corporate concept. They are designed for 800 passengers and more than 200 trucks, trailers and containers. This future-oriented ferry with a length of 230 metres will be the most environmentally friendly ferries in the company’s history and on the Baltic Sea. The delivery of the new Green Ships will be another central milestone in TT-Line’s endeavours to sustainably improve the travel experience for passengers and at the same time to set the new standard in terms of emissions reduction in the ferry industry.

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Justin Merrigan
By Justin Merrigan
03 November 2021

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