Swedish ferry company Stena Line has launched its first next generation RoPax vessel at the Avic Weihai Shipyard in China.
The first new vessel, to be named Stena Estrid, took to the water for the first time on January 16.
Scheduled to enter service on the Dublin to Holyhead route in early 2020, the unit is the first of three new E-Flexer vessels bound for the Irish Sea by 2021. The other two vessels from the series will be running the line between Belfast and Liverpool.
“The Stena Estrid successfully completed its float out manoeuvre from dry dock at the Avic Shipyard and now enters a busy phase of works ahead of its Irish Sea launch early next year,” Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson said.
On the same day, the shipyard hosted the keel-laying of the third vessel from the series.
Stena Lines’ sister company Stena RoRo is managing all the E-Flexer building projects that are ongoing on Avic Weihai Shipyard.
“We are very happy with the great collaboration with AVIC Shipyard, which includes both development and production of the E-Flexer series. From a customer standpoint we have exacting requirements on adaptation and flexibility, which the shipyard has successfully provided, and done so largely with good levels of quality,” Stena RoRo’s CEO Per Westling commented.
In total, Stena RoRo, placed orders for eight Stena E-Flexer class vessels with the Chinese AVIC Weihai Shipyard between 2016 and 2018.
Stena Line will operate a total of five E-Flexer vessels, two of which are an extended design.
The three vessels that are being built for the Irish Sea will be larger than today’s standard RoPax vessels at a length of 215 meters with a freight capacity of 3,100 lane meters and the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers.
The two E-Flexer RoPax vessels with a larger design will be deployed within Stena Line’s network in 2022. These larger ships will be 240 meters long and will have a total freight capacity of 3,600 lane meters, and passenger capacity of 1,200.
As for the remaining newbuilds, Brittany Ferries has hired two vessels, including the one for which a keel was laid yesterday. The duo will complement the company’s current fleet of freight and passenger vessels, travelling between Portsmouth in the UK and Bilbao and Santander in Spain.
DFDS has also signed a 10-year charter contract for one E-Flexer, to be used to travel across the English Channel.