Ferry Business - Autumn/Winter 2023

In association with VIRTU OF NECESSITY Francis Portelli discusses Virtu Ferries’ vital role for Malta’s economy A NEW ERA Two next-generation Spirit of Tasmania ferries to join the fleet EMERALD ISLE Andrew Sheen explains Irish Ferries’ green initiatives

87 COMMENTARY Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan explains why the global association’s upcoming conference in Tasmania promises to be a must-attend event this November Elevating the customer experience and sustainability With the mitigation of climate change being high on our agenda, sustainability will take centre stage at our 47th annual conference, which will be held in Hobart, Tasmania, from 4-8 November 2023. However, as will be highlighted by our distinguished keynote speakers, Australian tourism legend Rob Pennicott and Tourism Australia’s Robert Dougan, several conference sessions and panel debates will also focus on elevating the customer experience. The programme is being finalised and, as always, two panels of top ferry leaders will discuss industry trends, challenges and technologies. One of the technology sessions will be dedicated to electrification. As I have pointed out in earlier commentaries in CFR, the ferry industry is at the forefront of adopting new propulsion technologies, including batteries, but it is imperative that shoreside duplicates this effort. In 2022, we launched a global lobbying campaign, urging governments and authorities to prioritise investment in shore power supply infrastructure. To this end, we have partnered with The European Sea Ports Organisation to promote the provision and use of port power grids and sponsored the International Association of Ports and Harbors’ recent shore power submission to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The outcome of IMO’s latest Marine Environment Protection Committee requires us to shift into high gear. In addition to exploring how ferry operators can go electric and use noncarbon-based fuels, speakers at our conference will also discuss how to lessen our environmental impact in other areas. While we can expect a newbuilding spree to comply with more stringent targets set by IMO, we shouldn’t disregard existing vessels that still have an abundance of Delegates will be able to join a technical tour at Incat Tasmania’s shipyard in Hobart, enabling them to see the world’s largest zero-emissions lightweight ro-pax ferry under construction MIKE CORRIGAN A Canadian former energy industry executive, Mike Corrigan joined Interferry in 2017 after 14 years with BC Ferries – among the world’s largest ferry operators – where he was president and CEO from 2012.

88 Mike Corrigan discussing key industry topics with panellists at the 2022 Interferry Conference useful life left in them. Expert panellists will explore retrofitting solutions to avoid making existing vessels obsolete. Australia is the cradle of the world’s largest vehicle-carrying high-speed ferries with Hobart being home of Incat Tasmania. During our technical tour on the morning of 8 November, Incat’s Robert Clifford, an Interferry board member, will join managing directors Kim and Craig Clifford to give delegates a truly unique up-close look at the inner workings of the Incat shipyard. They will also see Buquebus’s 130E electric wavepiercing catamaran, the world’s largest zero-emissions lightweight ro-pax ferry, under construction. Some of our European members have told me that a behind-thescenes tour of the Incat shipyard alone is already good reason to travel all the way to Tasmania. Say no more! Conference president is Spirit of Tasmania CEO Bernard Dwyer, who will also give us an in-depth look at the new ‘Spirits’ under construction in Finland. As you can read in an interview with Dwyer on the following page, the company’s newbuilds will radically change the ferry business on the Bass Strait. For those delegates who would like to experience Spirit of Tasmania, our hosts are offering a complimentary overnight journey from Devonport to Geelong as one of the posttour options. Also, just across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, Walter Rushbrook of KiwiRail’s Interislander and his team will present its two new rail-enabled ro-pax ferries being built in South Korea. As is widely known, Interferry has IMO consultative status with Johan Roos, our director of regulatory affairs, having recently attended the 80th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee. We are concerned about its outcome and the impulsively set targets taking effect at the end of this decade. We were expecting a 20 per cent short-term reduction of well-to-wake greenhouse gas emissions while striving for 30 per cent in 2030. However, like most of our counterparts, we are still coming to terms with the final outcome which provides for a short-term 70 per cent reduction, striving for 80 per cent by 2040 compared to 2008 – with a bottom line to reach netzero ‘by or around 2050’. During the conference, Roos will share the latest regulatory updates. Besides covering the outcomes from the 2023 IMO sessions and our own Operators Policy Committee meetings, he will also inform delegates on our association’s longstanding engagement with domestic ferry safety as we have now turned our attention to Africa following our successful FerrySafe initiative in the Philippines. In recent years we successfully managed to significantly grow our membership. While each and every member is highly valued, I’m particularly proud that Corsica Ferries recently joined as a member and participant on the Operators Policy Committee. In spring, we also welcomed Italy’s Liberty Lines as a new member. Liberty Lines’ Alessandro Morace, who is responsible for controlling a fleet of 30 high-speed craft, will talk at our Hobart conference, giving delegates insight into the company’s fleet renewal strategy. Yet another new member is New Zealand’s Fullers360, and the brand’s head of innovations and asset development Liam Dowling will share the plans for a 34-metre hybrid commuter ferry that will service Auckland. See you in Hobart! Spirit of Tasmania CEO Bernard Dwyer will host the 2023 event

89 FEATURED INTERVIEW TT-Line Company’s Bernard Dwyer discusses with Philippe Holthof the two next-generation Spirit of Tasmania ro-pax ferries that will soon join the Tasmania-based fleet Dawn of a new era Spirit of Tasmania’s newbuilding project at Finland’s Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) shipyard represents a first for the Tasmaniaheadquartered ro-pax ferry operator, which has hitherto relied on the secondhand market. The operator’s existing vessels, which connect Devonport with Geelong in mainland Australia, were completed by the then Kvaerner Masa Yards (now Meyer Turku) for Superfast Ferries 25 years ago. However, both Spirit of Tasmania I and II were refurbished from stem to stern in 2015. “Our current vessels are operating very well,” says Bernard Dwyer, CEO and managing director of TT-Line Company, which operates the only two ro-pax ferries that connect the Australian mainland with the island state of Tasmania. “We are not offloading these vessels because they are too old but simply because they can no longer cope with demand. We have very long booking lead times and long waiting lists with demand far exceeding supply.” Reviewing fleet size and fleet configuration to eventually design a newbuild from the keel up has been a very long process that started in 2009. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. Spirit of Tasmania’s initial two-ship contract signed with Germany’s Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) yard in spring 2018 became void in February 2020 as the financially beleaguered shipyard was struggling to obtain export guarantees. Concurrent with the mutual cancellation of the FSG contract, a memorandum of understanding was signed with RMC, the Finnish yard that had earlier been shortlisted for the project. Two months later and the world was in Covid-19 lockdown. This was why the Tasmanian Government requested TT-Line Company to reconsider building in Finland and rather explore local procurement and manufacturing options, making decisions that presented the greatest opportunity for local and Australian manufacturers. Spirit of Tasmania ultimately signed a firm contract with RMC in April 2021 and, as Dwyer explains, “we’ve always been driven as a company by using local products and services.” “ We have seen an increase in travellers with caravans and campervans” Spirit of Tasmania I is one of only two ro-pax ferries connecting mainland Australia with the island state of Tasmania Photo: Spirit of Tasmania

90 Indeed, many materials will be manufactured in Tasmania and Australia to be shipped in containers to Finland. “We are pushing very hard on just about everything we look at,” says Dwyer. “For the sea trial purposes, most things will either need to be sent to Finland or the yard will need to put their equivalent weight onto the ship. For example, mattresses, Tasmanian artwork and wooden tabletops will only be installed once the ships are here, but their weight will be replicated to undertake as accurate sea trials as possible.” The new ro-pax ferries, to be named Spirit of Tasmania IV and Spirit of Tasmania V, will be about 40 per cent larger than the ships they replace, and also boast a third dedicated car deck. The new vehicle deck configuration requires new linkspans with a third level giving direct access to the upper car deck, Deck 7. An industry first, direct triple deck access will reduce port turnarounds significantly, something which is crucial during the peak summer months when the ships do ‘doubles’ (when they perform both day and night crossings). “In the summer our current ships need about three hours to be turned around in port,” says Dwyer. “With the three-level linkspan and an auto-mooring system we want to get this down to 90 minutes. With their 26-knot service speeds, crossing times on the newbuilds will be similar, so it’s the port times that need to be reduced to fit a return sailing or a ‘double’ in a 24-hour period. This also guarantees a fixed 18.45 departure and 06.00 arrival, whether it’s a morning or evening departure. Currently we cannot fit a return sailing in a 24-hour period, so every day you’re creeping up the departure and arrival times.” In October 2022, TT-Line Company moved its mainland terminal from Melbourne’s Station Pier to Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city. Dwyer says the new Geelong operation is a change for the better. “Firstly, Geelong is not as congested as getting into Melbourne’s Station Pier,” he explains. “It was often gridlocked with trucks stranded in a 90-minute traffic jam within a kilometre of the terminal, trying to get in. From our point of view, we have gone from a one-hectare site to a 12-hectare site. Operationally it is a much better facility, not only for us but also for users with improved passenger facilities and a 24-hour freight yard allowing our customers to drop off and pick up their freight units at any time of the day. We haven’t seen a decrease in passengers at all – in fact we have seen an increase in travellers with caravans and campervans because it is a lot easier to get to the Geelong terminal.” So, how about the terminal on the other side of Bass Strait – will new facilities also be provided in Devonport? “This is a work in progress,” says Dwyer. “We are in a transition period and just like in Geelong, we are building a threelevel linkspan that fits both generations, albeit the third level is of no use for our current ships. When the first new ship arrives during the second quarter of 2024, we will move from berth one to three which is in the same area. It matches the Geelong land space, also avoiding a bottleneck. A lot of land reclamation is being done by TasPorts.” Designing a ship from scratch in close cooperation with the naval architects of Foreship and Figura’s Richard Nilsson, the Swedish interior designer also responsible for the makeover of Spirit of Tasmania I and II, was a new experience for TT-Line Company’s management and newbuilding team. Unlike a second-hand ro-pax, a purpose-designed newbuild doesn’t come with a lot of compromises or shortcomings. The next-generation Spirit of Tasmania ro-pax ferry under construction at Finland’s RMC yard Photo: Spirit of Tasmania

91 All the Spirit of Tasmania vessels feature comfortable interiors and large windows to optimise the guest experience FEATURED INTERVIEW Photo: credit “Little details can make a big difference,” says Dwyer. “We will have Australian power points instead of European ones which we had to modify on the second-hand vessels. Separating cars from trucks through the third vehicle deck and the third-level linkspan is another example. The height of the freight vehicle decks will be increased to 4.8 metres, a new requirement in Australia. The new ships will be wider, so we will have wider lanes which is something where we are a little bit cramped today. On the freight side we have designed the newbuilds for lock-in trestles which is a way better lashing solution. It cuts down risk of injury for our crew but also makes it much more efficient to load and discharge. All lashing points that secure trailer trestles were manufactured in Tasmania and shipped over to be installed at the builder’s yard.” As for the accommodation, Dwyer prefers to keep things under wraps although he hints that services that were taken away after the refurbishment of Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, such as à la carte dining, may come back. The décor of the new ships will reflect the look and feel of Tasmania. “We are very excited about it,” he says. “Richard [Nilsson] travelled around Tasmania with us and the unique scenery of its four different regions – the west coast’s rugged wilderness, the east coast with its beaches, the metropolitan side with the island’s capital on the south coast and the pasture or grazing land on the north coast – are replicated in the interior design.” The new Spirits will be the first large ro-pax ferries in the Southern Hemisphere to boast dual-fuel engines. Beside four Wärstilä’s 46DF four stroke dual-fuel main engines, the 212-metrelong and 31-metre-beam vessels will also have three Wärtsilä 20DF dual-fuel auxiliary engines and Wärtsilä LNGPac fuel storage, supply and control systems. “It’s something we are really looking forward to,” says Dwyer. “The engines are future-proofed to burn alternative green fuels such as new biofuels. Together with Wärtsilä and RMC we try to understand the future fuel market, so we have tried to make that as open a base as possible as we don’t want to hamstring ourselves. In Australia the question is what fuel types are available rather than what the best fuel type is. There is LNG supply in Tasmania from a Westbury plant, but it is not big enough to sustain all of the operators on the Bass Strait. The facility would need to be upgraded or we’d look at other alternatives, potentially on the mainland. We have an LNG supply contract for the first ship, but it will not be using LNG for the whole voyage.” As part of the new port infrastructure in both Geelong and Devonport, cold ironing facilities will guarantee zero emissions and less noise in port. While the hybrid element is gaining importance in Europe, the new Spirits will not have a single battery pack. “It wasn’t considered purely because of the speed requirement and the distance of the run,” says Dwyer. Spirit of Tasmania IV is slated for delivery during the first quarter of 2024, with sister ship Spirit of Tasmania V to follow in December. As the new ships come in, the 1998-built ones will be retired from the fleet. The first vessel will leave the fleet about a month after the introduction of Spirit of Tasmania IV, a scenario to be repeated when Spirit of Tasmania V is introduced. “Our brokers will put the vessels on the market in September or October,” says Dwyer. “Already now there’s a lot of interest from Europe but not necessarily from Mediterranean operators. Our ships have a great reputation, and everybody knows that we maintain them in the best way we can.” “ In Australia the question is what fuel types are available rather than what the best fuel type is” Photo: Spirit of Tasmania

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93 ROUNDTABLE Simon Johnson asks four ferry operators how they are continuing to deliver an excellent experience for their customers during times of change Rising to expectations After the unprecedented disruption of the last few years, ferry operators could be forgiven for wanting a chance to take a breath. But customers have an unerring habit of demanding excellence; perhaps even more so as inflationary pressures lead them to scrutinise the value they are getting for every form of expenditure. The companies that succeed will be those that best meet customer expectations and deliver satisfaction at every step. Here, four ferry line executives explain what they consider to be crucial to the customer experience, how needs may have changed, and the challenges they need to overcome to realise their visions. What are the most important considerations in building a first-class customer experience? Peter Ståhlberg, Managing Director, Wasaline: For customers, coming onboard the ship is like opening a new book – you have to tell them a good story. I come from the world of cruise and tried to bring some of the ideas from there to our ship’s design, including the importance of a good entrance. You can win or lose the customer in the first few seconds. So, in our main halls, we have a lot of local pictures of our destinations and large windows offering views out to sea. They really help to sell the experience of being onboard the ship, telling the story we want to tell right from the start. Views out to sea can provide a compelling first impression to passengers, says Wasaline’s Peter Ståhlberg

94 Destination-focused designs, such as this Spanish art gallery onboard Brittany Ferries’ Galicia, can help ferry operators tell a story through their interiors Steve Newbery, Director, Onboard Services, DFDS: Expectations vary depending on the route – for our longer cruise routes it’s about the destination and a slower, more considerate, onboard offer. For short-sea routes it’s all about providing what passengers need in preparation for their holiday – perhaps good food, shopping for forgotten essentials, a little entertainment and good rest. Joëlle Croc Director, Customer Experience, Products & Onboard sales, Brittany Ferries: It’s about knowing our customers and their expectations. An intimate knowledge of our customers and of our brand links directly to being able to deliver a quality of experience that meets our brief. With that in mind, we design all aspects of the ship to respond to the customer’s needs, from the comfort of the cabins to the type of restaurant and the shopping experience. That enables us to cover what they want and manage their satisfaction, encouraging them to come back in the future. Matteo Della Valle, Director, Passenger Sales & Marketing, GNV: Italians love to take their pets on vacation and so good animal facilities are a big priority. We’ve increased the number of cabins dedicated to animals and created spaces on our vessels specifically for pets and their owners, allowing for a good experience for both them and those who don’t want to meet a pet onboard. And of course, we all expect a good wi-fi service wherever we go, and it can be challenging to deliver at sea sometimes! We are investing in delivering an excellent service that matches what customers will have at home to ensure their connectivity needs are met. How have customer expectations changed over the last few years? JC: In very recent months, the context of growing inflation in the countries we serve has affected the sensitivity of customers to prices. They need to know exactly what is onboard, what its price is, and if they can afford it or SIMON JOHNSON Director Shipshape Consulting JOËLLE CROC Director Customer Experience, Products and Onboard Sales, Brittany Ferries PETER STÅHLBERG Managing Director Wasaline STEVE NEWBERY Director Onboard Services, DFDS MATTEO DELLA VALLE Director Passenger Sales & Marketing, GNV The host: The panel: “ For customers, coming onboard the ship is like opening a new book – you have to tell them a good story”

95 not. In terms of design, there’s therefore perhaps a need to think about how should display offers in restaurants, bars and shops to make sure that they’re immediately visible and can capture customers’ attention with good value for money. SN: I agree that value for money is a significant need at the moment. People are willing to buy things onboard, especially food, but it has to represent good value for money. Just because you’ve got a captive audience doesn’t mean you can have poor food and a high price. If we can make sure that we provide value, passengers won’t be buying food before getting onboard, they’ll be using our restaurants. PS: Cleanliness has been a key concern ever since the pandemic. Passengers expect everything to be spotless and well organised, and they’re interested in how we handle the food and handle waste. It’s very important that a crew know a little bit about what we’re doing in those areas if asked. Passengers also now like the ship to feel very spacious, so that they don’t feel like they’ve been crowded into an area like a restaurant. What is the greatest challenge that you face in envisioning and building your customer experience vision? MDV: You have to get any changes right the first time, because the investment has to continuing paying off for ten to fifteen years. You can build flexibility into some interior spaces so they can be transformed if the need arises, but most of your interior experience has to last until the next major refit. SN: The fact that every investment has to deliver an immediate return – through improved passenger ratings, higher rates, increased onboard sales, and more. Investments are deeply considered and measured to give a positive return for passengers and the company. JC: Finding the perfect balance between our commercial needs and our passenger’s needs within our budget is our most significant challenge. PS: All of the above. We’re a commercial operation and we need to find the right balance in everything we do. We therefore need our passengers to value the service and experience that we provide at a price that’s fair for us, and for them. Passengers have become more sensitive to prices in their onboard purchases after recent inflation, says Brittany Ferries’ Joëlle Croc ROUNDTABLE

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97 INTERVIEW The latest addition to the Irish Ferries fleet is Oscar Wilde Going green Irish Ferries’ Andrew Sheen tells Justin Merrigan how the brand is working to make its ships more sustainable with the help of new fuels and eco-friendly technologies Owing to its vivid vegetation, Ireland has long been known as the Emerald Isle. Likewise, the colour green has been key in Irish Ferries’ distinctive branding since it was formed in 1973. Little wonder then that Irish Ferries takes its green responsibilities seriously. Ferry travel is an attractive option for eco-conscious travellers. Recent reports show that for for the same distance travelled, the ferry emits one per cent of what the plane emits in terms of carbon dioxide per tonne-kilometres. In addition, the ferry industry is actively implementing measures to further reduce its environmental footprint. “As exemplified by our recent fleet adaptations, various eco-friendly technologies and practices have been introduced to enhance fuel efficiency and minimise emissions,” says Andrew Sheen, managing director of Irish Ferries. “Propeller optimisation, LED lighting changes, variable frequency drives to HVAC systems, and fuel monitoring and advice systems are all steps taken by Irish Ferries to improve sustainability.” The company is also considering fully electrifying ferries for certain routes. “Electrified ships, when powered by renewable energy sources, can operate with zero emissions during their journeys, making them a highly eco-friendly option for maritime travel,” says Sheen. “We’ve also been evaluating various fuel options. Biofuels derived from renewable resources have the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels. As technology and availability continues to improve, these fuels could become a viable and low-carbon alternative for the shipping industry a lot quicker than alternatives such as methanol.” Biofuels are also lower in toxicity than other fuels, such as ammonia which Sheen says potentially poses risks to passengers and the environment due to its high toxicity. “Biofuels offer more overall benefit than LNG too, as they exhibit lower toxicity and methane slip, making them a safer and environmentally friendly option for powering passenger ships, where four-stroke, medium-speed engines are typically installed,” he explains. “Alongside this, we are exploring how friction reduction solutions, such as passive air lubrication systems, can further enhance our hull efficiency to cut emissions during voyages in the short

98 Photo: credit term and our overall long-term energy requirements, regardless of the core energy source we’re using.” Irish Ferries also continues to evolve its award-winning fleet and well-regarded hospitality services. “Oscar Wilde, which joined the Pembroke – Rosslare route in June 2023, offers passengers spacious and modern interiors, with a choice of lounges and dining options,” says Sheen. The ship also boasts a large onboard shopping space for generous duty-free allowances. “Oscar Wilde has been warmly received by those who have travelled onboard, and the feedback has been excellent from all our customers.” Passengers can choose between three vessels on the 90-minute route between Dover, UK, and Calais, France. “Isle of Inishmore, Isle of Innisfree, and Isle of Inisheer offer personalised experiences with 14 food and beverage outlets between them,” says Sheen. “Meanwhile, the overnight route from Dublin, Ireland, to Cherbourg, France, is serviced by the award-winning W.B. Yeats, which provides a relaxed and stylish sea travel experience. This ship offers refined accommodation, a range of dining options, and familyfriendly entertainment.” Ulysses provides services between Holyhead, Wales, and Dublin. “Passengers can enjoy comfortable spaces, including the Martello Club Class lounge with sea views, complimentary drinks, and premium wi-fi,” says Sheen. “The James Joyce Balcony lounge offers views directly to the sky, ideal for relaxing on night crossings.” Also servicing the Holyhead route is the high-speed craft, Dublin Swift. “Over the past 20 years, the average weight of cars has increased, leading to deadweight capacity constraints on our original fast craft, Jonathan Swift,” says Sheen. “To address this issue, Irish Ferries purchased Dublin Swift in 2016 after a short-term military charter. We enhanced its physical capacity by adding a hoistable car deck and improved manoeuvrability with retractable bow thrusters. It has been in service since 2019, but due to Covid, 2022 marked its first full summer service.” The craft is laid out over one deck. Club Class offers commanding views over the ship’s bow. Since the UK’s departure from the European Union, the duty-free store has been increased by 33 per cent. “While full food offerings are often limited on these types of ships, Dublin Swift provides a full Irish breakfast in the mornings, full hot meal ranges and a wide range of alternatives,” says Sheen. “The crossing time of two hours and 15 minutes, compared to conventional ships’ three hours and 45 minutes, is not the only fast aspect of this ship; unloading the last car during full loads typically takes less than 15 minutes.” The company has already conducted successful trials of biofuel on Dublin Swift and plans to experiment with up to 80 per cent sustainable fuel by the end of the 2023 summer season. Sheen says this could potentially lead to an impressive 80 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. With its commitment to warm hospitality, excellent service and sustainability, Irish Ferries continues to offer passengers an enjoyable and responsible journey across the Irish Sea and beyond. “ We are exploring how friction reduction solutions can further enhance our hull efficiency to cut emissions” Managing director Andrew Sheen on the bridge of W.B. Yeats with senior master Captain Kieran Conroy. The two previously worked at sea together

99 INTERVIEW Powering Malta’s economy Francis Portelli discusses Virtu Ferries’ role in providing vital passenger and cargo services for Malta with Justin Merrigan For over 35 years, Virtu Ferries has provided essential fast passenger and vehicle services between Malta and Sicily. Since 2019 the company has been operating two vessels on the route, the new Incat-built 110-metre catamarans Saint John Paul II, and Jean De La Valette, which was delivered nine years earlier by Austal Ships. With an annual 1,400, 100-minute trips between the neighbouring islands, it is little wonder that Virtu Ferries is officially recognised as an essential service. And at no time was this more evident than during the Covid-19 pandemic, when commercial vehicle drivers travelling with Virtu were exempt from quarantine restrictions to keep Malta supplied with essential goods. Virtu’s sea link allows Malta to take advantage of the economy of scale of the European Union’s single market, which has a population of over 450 million. “To put things in perspective, the island state of Malta, a member of the EU, has a population of just over 500,000,” says Francis Portelli, owner and managing director of Virtu Group. “Malta’s closest neighbour, 60 nautical miles to the north, is Sicily which has a population of five million. Sicily is separated from Italy by the Strait of Messina and is, in practical terms, part of mainland Europe.” “This is Virtu’s guiding vision, hence the current deployment of the two vessels on the Malta-Sicily route and our foresight to previously deploy our, first and much smaller passenger/ car fast ferry, San Gwann, in 2001, in anticipation of Malta joining the EU in 2004,” says Portelli. Malta’s insularity is a major disadvantage for the island’s industrial development, and these challenges are recognised at European Union level. Virtu’s contribution in this field is to provide urgent deliveries of essential

100 items from the much larger market to the north. “Several industries depend on a scheduled daily fast-ferry service for the importation of these essential products,” says Portelli. “To mention just two, the island has a thriving pharmaceutical industry that requires urgent deliveries on a regular basis, the same can be said of the up-and-coming aviation maintenance industry. Also worth mentioning is the fact that a good number of Sicilians provide Malta with skilled labour generally and also find a prominent place in the tourist industry, a major pillar of the local economy.” A more recent service, with a strong socioeconomic input, commenced against all odds in 2021 despite the Covid pandemic. It provides commuters with a fast-ferry service between Malta’s capital city Valletta and Gozo, the other main island in the Maltese Archipelago. The vessels deployed on this service are San Frangisk, a 317-passenger ferry, and the new Gozo Express with capacity for 322 passengers. This too is an officially designated essential service. There are other areas under the Virtu Group banner. “We have Venezia Lines, a wholly owned subsidiary, which since 2001 has run a sessional fast-ferry passenger service between Venice and four Adriatic ports in Croatia and Slovenia every April to October,” he says. “San Pawl, a sister vessel of San Frangisk, is on this route. “The company’s other fast ferry, Maria Dolores, is on charter between Tarifa, Spain and Tangier Ville, Morocco.” For Portelli, post-Covid recovery is an immediate priority. The tourism industry is experiencing a boom, and this applies to Malta and Sicily to the same extent as it does to other tourist destinations. Virtu is benefitting from this upsurge. “We are experiencing a healthy increase in travel between Malta and Sicily,” says Portelli. “The Malta – Sicily route is the company’s core business and consequently will continue to be given the attention it deserves, in terms of passenger travel, cargo and innovation.” Virtu will also continue to update its environmental policy. “Saint John Paul II, the company’s most recent build, is certified by classification society DNV as complying with both International Maritime Organization’s Fuel Oil Data Collection System, and the European Union MRV Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/757 on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport,” says Portelli. “Virtu is actively looking at developments in ship electric propulsion systems with a view to employing these at the appropriate time.” Photo: credit “ Virtu is actively looking at developments in ship electric propulsion systems”

101 INTERVIEW Prioritising sustainability Abby Penlington of Discover Ferries predicts hybrid vessels, new propulsion technologies and other sustainability initiatives will dramatically improve the UK ferry industry’s carbon footprint. Adam Lawrence reports Ferries are long-term investments for their owners and operators. As they are built to last for an average of 25-30 years, the industry is relatively slow at rolling out new technologies. But, says director of UK-based industry body Discover Ferries Abby Penlington, the sector is coming to a tipping point, with many operators either having or planning to introduce new ships with innovative, less polluting propulsion systems. “Five new ships have entered service in the past two years, of which one is hybrid, two LNG and three more efficient diesel vessels, and a further 15 will join fleets by 2027,” says Penlington. “Hybrid ferries are providing a stepping stone towards zero emissions. These new vessels are designed to run more efficiently today but can also adapt to take advantage of future technological developments and become even more efficient, for example, when ports have the infrastructure to support vessels plugging in to shore power.” Operators including P&O Ferries, Brittany Ferries, Stena Line and several others are investing heavily in hybrid technologies. “As well as fewer emissions, they are significantly quieter and offer a smoother ride – great for passengers, residents near ports and marine life,” says Penlington. “In terms of fall in carbon emissions, P&O Ferries estimate that its new hybrid ferries P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberté will reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent initially, with more reductions to come when infrastructure allows.” Scottish operator Caledonian MacBrayne was the first British line to introduce hybrid technology in 2011. It now has three of the vessels in use, with four more to enter service alongside two LNG ships in the next two years. Isle of Wight operator Wightlink is drawing up plans for an all-electric ferry. “A zeroemissions commuter service is due to launch between the Irish ports of Belfast and Bangor in 2024,” says Penlington. “Designed to fly above the water and use 90 per cent less energy than conventional ferries, the ship is being developed by the Belfast Maritime Consortium with Condor Ferries.” Propulsion technology is not the only way in which the ferry sector is tackling sustainability. Ports are becoming greener too. “Portsmouth International Port is the first UK port to install solar canopies; 2,600 panels sit above Brittany Ferries’ car lanes providing shade for the vehicles while generating power,” says Penlington. “Together with a 1.5-megawatt per hour battery to store unused power, the renewable energy project could contribute up to 98 per cent of the port’s electricity consumption in ideal conditions. Having already reduced its direct carbon emissions by 95 per cent since 2007, the Port of Dover is targeting net zero emissions by 2025 and was recently awarded funding as part of the Green Corridor Short Straits (GCSS) consortium.” Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s new diesel-electric hybrid ferry Manxman began sailing from the Isle of Man and Heysham in Lancashire, UK

102 Photo: credit The industry is also trying to protect maritime biodiversity, including working with marine conservation charities such as ORCA, MARINElife and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. “Thriving seagrass beds are important habitat for marine life with up to 80,000 animals living in a single hectare of seagrass. They help prevent erosion and store 10 per cent of the ocean’s carbon,” says Penlington. “Wightlink teamed up with scientists and students from the University of Portsmouth in an environmental project to examine – and ultimately encourage – the growth of seagrass in the Solent off Ryde. The project gathers information about the Solent beds, which in turn paves the way for the planting of more seagrass.” In addition, says Penlington, operators have undertaken projects focused on food waste minimisation, increased recycling and segregation of garbage, sustainable water solutions, and reviewing and reducing single-use plastics to reduce passenger carbon impact and promote a more environmentally friendly travel experience for their customers. “The drive towards zero emissions is one of the most important challenges facing the industry, but one which also presents an opportunity,” says Penlington. “At a time when customers are looking for alternatives to flying, the ferry industry is already able to offer routes in the British Isles and to Western Europe with more environmentally friendly vessels. When combined with the opportunity to learn more about, and witness first-hand the magnificent biodiversity that British waters have to offer, ferries are in a strong position to gain new customers.” “ The drive towards zero emissions is one of the most important challenges facing the industry, but one which also presents an opportunity” Brittany Ferries’ LNG-powered Santoña produces virtually no soot, sulphur or nitrogen dioxide emissions, and 20 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than diesel-powered ferries of the same size

103 VIEWPOINT Over the past decade, the number of fires occurring on the decks of ro-ro ferries has been closely monitored by Interferry, the shipping association representing the global ferry industry. In most cases, the fires have been attributed to an electrical fault, often a malfunctioning reefer unit. However, the industry has raised concerns over how best to manage fires emanating from the lithium-ion (Liion) battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) that are gradually replacing the classic petrol and diesel-powered vehicles (ICEVs) carried onboard ro-ro ferries. Questions have also been asked about the efficacy of a fixed water-based extinguishing system (drencher system) in relation to Li-ion battery fires. Between September 2019 and August 2023, Interferry collaborated with other members of LASH FIRE, a European Union-led research project, to develop and validate effective operational and design solutions to significantly reduce the risk of BEV fires onboard ro-ro ships. As part of this project, LASH FIRE has performed tests comparing the fire suppression performance of a drencher system for both ICEV and BEV fires. Relative to the total number of vehicles, the number of BEV fires is lower than ICEV fires. Even so, stringent measures related to the carriage of BEVs have been discussed, including everything from installing additional firefighting capabilities, to segregating BEVs onboard or prohibiting BEVs on ro-ro decks. This is because several factors make it very difficult to extinguish a fire within a battery pack. First, the plastic housing of the battery pack acts as a shield for the extinguishing agent (for example water), and secondly, the battery pack will also be shielded by the vehicle’s body. Plus, the chemical components within the battery cells provide a high-density energy source to sustain the fire locally. This shielding effect is mostly relevant if the fire starts in the BEV’s battery, which is typically caused by a short circuit leading to a so-called thermal runaway. When the fire does not originate in the battery, the suppression activities will hinder its spread and significantly reduce the risk of a thermal runaway. A BEV may also end up on fire when stowed adjacent to a vehicle that catches on fire, but in this scenario the consequences are no worse than if it were a petrol or diesel car by virtue of the unlikeliness of the BEV’s battery experiencing a thermal runaway. In fact, a non-battery-related fire in a BEV will likely release less heat than one involving liquid fuel in a tank because a plastic fuel tank will catch fire much faster than a Li-ion battery. LASH FIRE carried out a series of tests comparing the fire suppression performance of a drencher system for fires involving ICEVs and BEVs, respectively. The tests simulated a ro-ro space with a five-metre-high ceiling and a fire suppression system designed in line with International Maritime Organization’s revised guidelines for the design and approval of fixed water-based firefighting systems for ro-ro and special category spaces (MSC. 1/Circ. 1430/Rev. 2). Representative of today’s modern vehicles, LASH FIRE used two pairs of geometrically similar SUV-type By Johan Roos, Interferry Fighting electric fires on ferries Tests conducted by the EU’s LASH FIRE project show that conventional seawater drencher systems can effectively contain battery electric vehicle fires onboard vessels Watch LASH FIRE’s webinar about BEV fires on the decks of ro-ro ferries: lashfire.eu/fire-on-ro-ro-deck-webinar-ivideo-available/ “ BEVs are no more hazardous than ICEVs, yet the risks of Li-ion batteries differ to those of conventional fuels”

104 ICEVs and BEVs during the tests. The tests illustrated that while both vehicles presented different fire scenarios, the performance requirements for existing drencher systems on both closed and open ro-ro decks meant they were sufficient to contain a BEV fire, at least to a level equivalent of an ICEV fire. A fire caused by a fuel spill from an ICEV develops very rapidly, peaks high but burns out fast, whilst a fire starting in the battery pack of a BEV is slower and smaller (resulting in a lower heat release), but it burns longer. The scenario of the fire in other combustibles – such as tyres, exterior and undercarriage plastic parts, and the inside of the car – is similar. As the drencher system was capable of containing the fire, the tests clearly illustrated that the overall risk of carrying BEV vehicles should be considered equivalent or lower than carrying ICEVs. As for the latter vehicle type, there is the additional risk of the fire spreading horizontally if a fuel tank ruptures, sending burning fuel under the adjacent cars. It is also important to remember that the main purpose of firefighting systems on ro-pax ferries is not necessarily to extinguish a fire but rather to contain it until the vessel can get to a port. Here, passengers are evacuated and professional firefighters board to extinguish the fire. Ferry operators should adopt a similar mindset regarding BEV fires – it is no different to what the industry has done so far, providing they release the right drencher section in time. If they are too slow and do things incorrectly, they risk spreading a fire that could result in a nightmare scenario. In conclusion, BEVs are no more hazardous than ICEVs, yet the risks of Li-ion batteries differ to those of conventional fuels. For this reason, Interferry has recommended its members do not make any special provisions for carrying BEVs – and even charge them if that’s an option – provided that equipment and training are compliant with Safety Of Life At Sea requirements and International Safety Management code, which, of course, they always have to be! Johan Roos is director of regulatory affairs at Interferry Image: Philippe Holthof Vehicles are packed closely together on the decks of ro-pax ferries, but LASH FIRE tests have shown that drencher systems are capable of containing fires in both BEVs and ICEVs

FERRY ORDER BOOK Newbuilds take their bow Justin Merrigan highlights several of the notable newbuilds that are now entering service for ferry operators around the world The first of Finnlines’ two Superstar-class ferries, Finnsirius, is scheduled to commence operations between Finland and Sweden in September 2023. Built by China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Weihai, China, Finnsirius will be the largest ropax vessel in the Finnlines fleet, doubling passenger capacity on the NaantaliLångnäs-Kapellskär route to 1,100. The cargo capacity will increase by nearly 24 per cent to 5,200 lane metres. Sister ship Finncanopus is on track for delivery by the end of the year and together the two ships are part of the company’s €500 million ($547 million) Green Newbuilding Programme. “These hybrid ro-pax vessels are not only the largest in the company fleet so far, but they transport cargo in a more sustainable manner,” says Tom Pippingsköld, president and CEO of Finnlines. “For example, the vessels have been equipped with enormous highpowered battery banks and onshore power supply to have zero emissions while at port.” “In addition, port operations will also be more efficient with auto-mooring. Smooth freight traffic in the Baltic Sea is the backbone of the region’s economies and national security of supply. For example, around 90 per cent of both Finnish and Swedish exports and imports are carried along shipping routes. Finnlines combines cargo with Finnsirius is the first of Finnlines’ two Superstar-class ferries and was built by China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Weihai, China 106

107 Operator Vessel Yard Pax Del. estimate Onorato Armatori Group Moby Legacy Guangzhou Shipyard International 2,500 2023 P&O P&O Liberté Guangzhou Shipyard International 1,500 2023 Finnlines Finncanopus CMI Jinling Weihai 1,100 Q4 2023 TT-Line Company Spirit of Tasmania IV Rauma Marine Constructions 1,200 Q1 2024 TT-Line Company Spirit of Tasmania V Rauma Marine Constructions 1,200 Q4 2024 Polferries 1 ro-pax Cantiere Navale Visentini 1,000 Q4 2024 GNV 4 ro-pax Guangzhou Shipyard International 1,500 2024/25/26 Marine Atlantic Ala’suinu CMI Jinling Weihai 1,100 2024-2025 Brittany Ferries Guillaume de Normandie CMI Jinling Weihai 1,400 Spring 2025 Brittany Ferries Saint-Malo CMI Jinling Weihai 1,400 2025 CMAL 4 ro-pax Cemre Shipyard, Yalova 450 each 2024/25/26 Buquebús 1 fast ferry Incat Tasmania, Hobart. 1,200 2025 Torghatten Nord 2 ro-pax Cemre Shipyard, Yalova 599 2025 KiwiRail Train/ro-pax Hyundai Mipo Dockyard 1,900 2025 KiwiRail Train/ro-pax Hyundai Mipo Dockyard 1,900 2026 “ These hybrid ro-pax vessels are not only the largest in the company fleet so far, but they transport cargo in a more sustainable manner” passenger traffic on the Naantali– Långnäs–Kapellskär route, and therefore our investment will strengthen services to our freight customers as well as to our passengers.” Antonio Raimo, the line manager at Finnlines adds: “Finnlines is proud to introduce the first Superstar, and Finnsirius will be Finnlines’ flagship in both size and technology. We will be able to offer upgraded services for passengers, including several themed restaurants, a wide range of cabin categories, meeting rooms, a large shop, lounges, to name just a few.” Meanwhile in the Isle of Man, hybrid ro-pax vessel Manxman started service from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company in mid-August 2023. With a length of 133 metres, the £78 million ($99.2 million) Manxman is the largestever vessel in the company’s history. The 24,161gt ship can accommodate 948 passengers and 237 cars and is powered by four Wärtsilä diesel engines, giving a service speed of 19 knots. Manxman posed several design challenges due to the increased vessel capacity and size limitations in the Port of Douglas, as well the need to tolerate harsh Irish Sea conditions throughout the annual cycle of vessel operations. It was designed in partnership with UK-based naval architects Houlder and builder South Korea-based Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. Interior design is by London-headquartered SMC Design and the vessel’s facilities are of a standard never before seen on routes to the Isle of Man, according to the operator. While deck seven has many of the communal areas, including the bar, eatery, a family area and children’s play zone, deck eight is home to exclusive lounges and cabins. The Injebreck Exclusive Lounge is available to 26 passengers, and there are seats in the Niarbyl lounge too. There are 40 cabins, which range from four-berth cabins to executive cabins, featuring a double bed and walk-out balconies. All the public areas on the vessel are fully wheelchair accessible. Around the coast in England, P&O Ferries’ new hybrid ship, P&O Pioneer, made its maiden voyage between Dover and Calais in June. The battery-hybrid ship has been designed with the capacity to become carbon neutral in future. The modular elements of the ship mean its electric power capabilities will develop in the future too. As technology develops and charging stations are brought in at ports, the installation of additional batteries will allow fully electric operation. The ship is the world’s largest doubleended hybrid ferry, with two bridges meaning there is no need for it to turn in port, saving fuel on every trip. Sister ship P&O Liberté will join the fleet later in 2023, with both ships replacing the capacity of three older vessels. Incat Tasmania’s landmark 130-metre fully electric catamaran for South American operator Buquebús continues to take shape in Australia. The vessel will have 40-megawatt hours of battery storage and will carry 2,100 passengers and 226 vehicles between Argentina and Uruguay at 25 knots for 90 minutes. “It is the world’s largest battery-powered vessel in length, in tonnage and in energy storage, by quite some margin,” says Craig Clifford, managing director of Incat, which is working with Wärtsilä on the project. In the same way that Incat revolutionised the ferry industry in 1990 with the introduction of the first carcarrying, wave-piercing catamarans, the builder is once again at the forefront of technology, this time leading the charge for decarbonisation. “The fully electric catamaran is a massive step forward,” Order table extend as necessary