Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Largest New Vessel for Freight and Passenger Channel Crossing as Ro-Pax Ferry Ordered

As One Route Closes So Another Sees Increased Capacity from 2021
Shipping News Feature
UK – FRANCE – In the week which DFDS abandoned its Rosyth to Zeebrugge route, the European freight and passenger ferry operator has entered into a 10-year bareboat charter agreement with Stena RoRo for a new building Ro-Pax ferry, for delivery in early 2021. The Channel is a key market for DFDS, with five million passengers, one million cars, and 1.2 million trucks travelling every year between Dover - Calais and Dover - Dunkerque on DFDS' vessels. To meet customers' demands, DFDS said that it decided to deploy a new ship specially designed for the service. Peder Gellert, EVP of the Shipping Division at DFDS, said:

“Since the ship has not yet been built, we have great opportunities to make sure that it is designed to give our guests the best possible experience with a completely new vessel. We will charter the ship from Stena RoRo and operate it for 10 years with an option to buy it after that, and since we are considering replacing the fleet on the Channel in 2031, the timing is really good.”

Four DFDS captains have already been testing in simulators how to navigate the proposed ship to make sure that the vessel is best fitted out for the unique conditions and problems incurred during a Channel crossing. Henrik Tidblad, Commercial Fleet Director, commented:

“When sailing on the Channel, we need to ensure that the ship is at least as fast in arrival and departure situations as our current ships. Therefore, we have made modifications to increase manoeuvrability.”

The ferry, which will be built at the Avic Weihai shipyard in China, is designed to be highly efficient and environmentally friendly with an expected reduction in oil consumption of around 25% compared to current ferries. It will be able to carry 3,100 lane metres of cargo and 1,000 passengers. With this capacity, DFDS claim it will be the largest of the ships on the Channel. Kasper Moos, VP of Business Unit Channel in DFDS, said:

“I am really looking forward to getting this fantastic ship to boost the business on the Channel. This new ship gives us excellent opportunities to develop our business on the commercial side. A newbuild ship will give us the flexibility to make room for tax-free shopping, depending on the outcome of Brexit. Together with an architect, we will design the interior of the ship to make sure we maximise our opportunities.”

The initial plan is for replacement of the oldest of the ferries, Calais Seaways, which was built in 1991. Market developments will determine the final deployment plan, which will be announced in 2020.