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Stena Line, a major ferry operator in Europe, has revealed plans to construct two new purpose-built roll-on/roll-off freight vessels for its growing Belfast-Heysham freight service in the Irish Sea.
The 147-meter vessels, known as the NewMax class, have been designed to maximize freight volumes and will offer a capacity of 2,800 lane meters each, which is an 80% increase in comparison to current ship capacities. They will also have the ability to carry 12 passengers and 26 crew members.
Stena Line’s new vessels will operate on methanol fuel. Stena Line says it is working closely with the methanol supply chain to secure future volumes of e-methanol, with the aim of shifting towards renewable fuels and reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030.
Stena Line became the first ferry operator to run a ferry on methanol when it converted the Stena Germanica in 2015.
The NewMax vessels have been designed for future electrification, with built-in technologies that can take advantage of battery propulsion and shore power where it is available.
Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson said that the investment shows the company’s dedication to sustainability and its strategy of moving towards sustainable fuels. “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,” he said.
The vessels have been designed with a bespoke marine technology configuration to make them more resilient to the tidal systems that prevail in Heysham, which can be challenging. They will come equipped with three bow thrusters for better maneuverability and reliability and a specially designed engine/propeller configuration to enhance berthing capability in extreme weather.
Construction on the two new vessels will begin in Weihai, China, through Stena RoRo, and both ships are expected to enter service on the route in autumn 2025 from Stena Line’s Belfast port.
Stena Line is currently the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, provide multiple service routes including a freight-only route from Belfast to Heysham. The company’s fleet provides up to 238 weekly sailing options between Britain and Ireland.
Stena Line also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg and will introduce an upgraded ship, Stena Vision, to this route this summer, making this route the most frequent service from Ireland to France with 12 sailings per week.
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