P&O Ferries orders two new super ferries for Dover-Calais route

Double-ended ships to be designed by OSK-ShipTech and built by Guangzhou Shipyard International

P&O Ferries orders two new super ferries for Dover-Calais route
P&P Ferries Janette Bell signs the contract with Guangzhou Shipyard International (Image: P&O Ferries)

By Rebecca Gibson |

Pan-European ferry operator P&O Ferries has ordered two new super ferries from China’s Guangzhou Shipyard International, which will be operational on the route between Dover, England and Calais, France by 2023.

Designed by Denmark-based naval architects OSK-ShipTech, the 1,500-passenger vessels will be 230 metres long, which will make them the largest to ever sail between Dover and Calais. Onboard highlights will include double-height panoramic windows on decks eight and nine, as well as a 1,500-square-metre outside deck to provide passengers with views of the sea and the world-famous White Cliffs of Dover.

Both double-ended ferries will have two bridges, eliminating the need for them to turn around in port. Instead, the captain and senior officers will walk to the other end of the ship and navigate from the second bridge, which will save seven minutes of time on both the outbound and return journeys. It will also cut one ton of fuel, which equates to a sixth of the total amount used on the 21-mile crossing between Dover and Calais.

To improve manoeuvrability, the vessels will have larger hulls than their predecessors, as well as two azimuth thrusters at the bow and two at the stern.

P&O Ferries has also invested in technology to minimise the ferries’ environmental impact and plans to equip both with the capacity for carbon-neutral sailing in the future.

The newbuilds will be powered by a combination of fuel and battery propulsion, which will cut fuel use by 40%. All surplus energy generated by the engines will be stored in the battery. The batteries will charge when excess energy is being created and discharge when the ships require peaks of power.

Innovative heat recovery systems will help to further reduce the ferries’ carbon footprint and save fuel. A steam system will provide heating for ultra-low sulphur fuel oil heaters, fuel tanks, fuel/fuel oil purifier heaters and HVAC system reheating. Meanwhile, a heat pump will be used for HVAC system preheating, domestic hot water, machinery rooms and technical spaces below deck eight.

Crew will be able to close up to two thirds of the ship during off-peak sailings, while the intelligent power management system will be able to turn off the lighting and ventilation in empty areas. The system will also optimise the use of engines, batteries and energy recovered from waste heat.

“These will be the most sustainable ships ever to sail on the English Channel, providing the best-ever customer experience and setting new standards for reliability and cost efficiency,” said Janette Bell, chief executive of P&O Ferries. “Together with our freight and overnight routes on the North Sea, the new ships will offer customers travelling between Britain and Europe an unrivalled range of services connecting sea and land. They are designed to secure P&O Ferries’ position as a vital part of Europe’s transport infrastructure into the 2040s.”

P&O Ferries’ €260 million (US$286 million) contract also includes an option to build two further vessels by 2024.

“This major investment in a new generation of super-ferries is a powerful testament to the commitment of DP World, our owner, to enable trade flows between Britain and Europe by providing first class shipping capacity for many years to come,” said Robert Woods, chairman of P&O Ferries.


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