Two all-new hybrid propulsion vessels designed to run on methanol and adding 80% capacity on the Belfast-Heysham route will respond to increasing customer demand for capacity and sustainability performance. Construction of the NewMax vessels will begin shortly with launch on the Irish Sea in 2025.
Stena Line, one of Europe’s leading ferry operators and the Irish Sea’s leading operator, has announced that it is constructing two new bespoke freight vessels for its expanding Belfast-Heysham freight service. Each of the two new 147-meter vessels has been designed to maximise freight volumes and will provide 2,800 lane meters of capacity which is an 80% increase on current ship capacities. The new vessels will be equipped to carry 12 passengers and 26 crew.
The ‘NewMax’ vessels will be able to operate on methanol fuel. Stena Line is currently working closely with the supply chain of methanol and has secured future volumes of e-methanol to fulfil its strategic ambition of shifting to renewable fuels and cutting 30% of its CO2 emissions by 2030. Stena Line became the first ferry operator to run a ferry on methanol when the Stena Germanica was converted in 2015.
Future proofing the new vessels for electrification has been another priority during construction providing in-built technologies that can take advantage of both battery propulsion and shore power, where this is available.
“This investment shows our dedication to sustainability and our strategy of moving towards new sustainable fuels” says Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line. “The NewMax vessels will also meet the growing demand from customers, adding significant capacity to allow logistics operators to grow their business in the region.”
The unique tidal systems prevailing in Heysham can be challenging, so each vessel will be fitted with a bespoke marine technology configuration making it more resilient to the prevailing weather conditions. Three bow thrusters will provide optimum maneuverability and reliability and a specially designed engine/propeller configuration will further enhance berthing capability in extreme weather.
Construction work on the two new vessels is about to start in Weihai, China through Stena RoRo and both ships are due to go into service on the route in autumn 2025, operating from Stena Line’s port in Belfast.
Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet offering the widest choice of routes including, combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead, and Rosslare to Fishguard routes, as well as a freight only route from Belfast to Heysham, a total of up to 238 weekly sailing options between Britain and Ireland.
Stena Line also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg and will be introducing an upgraded ship, Stena Vision, to this route for summer 2023, making this route the most frequent service from Ireland to France with 12 sailings per week.