Later this month Stena Line will introduce Stena Embla onto its Birkenhead to Belfast route, adding 20% extra freight capacity. Tony McDonough reports
Stena Line will increase freight capacity by 20% on its Birkenhead to Belfast ferry route this month when its new vessel comes into operation.
Currently, Stena operates up to two return crossings a day, seven days a week, on the route, using the Stena Mersey and Stena Edda vessels. Stena Edda is one one of the company’s new generation of E-Flexer ferries and replaced Stena Lagan on the route in 2020.
Later this month Stena Embla, another E-Flexer ferry, will replace Stena Mersey. The new ship has the capacity to carry 1 000 passengers, 120 cars and 3,100 lane metres of freight. It will increase freight capacity on the Birkenhead to Belfast route by 20% and will help meet an expected post-Brexit surge in demand.
Stena Mersey will join its sister ship Stena Lagan in Turkey where both vessels are being extended, before re-deployment on the Baltic Sea. Stena Embla has now arrived in Belfast and is being readied for deployment.
The introduction of the new vessel is part of a multi-million pound investment into the route. In 2019, Stena and Peel Ports, owner of the Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead, jointly invested £17m in an upgrade of the facility to prepare it for the introduction of the new vessels.
Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea trade director, said: “The arrival in Belfast of our newly-built Stena Embla is yet another important milestone in the ongoing enhancement programme of our Irish Sea services. We have now invested over £400m in our ferries and port facilities on the Irish Sea in recent years.
“The Birkenhead to Belfast route is one of the most popular Irish Sea crossings for both freight and leisure traffic so having a second vessel of the calibre of Stena Embla, with a host of high-quality passenger facilities, will further increase its appeal and expand our capacity.
“In March 2020 we launched our new build Stena Edda onto the service and the feedback from our freight and leisure customers was extremely positive. Now we will have two ships offering identical services and facilities which will help take our service levels on the route to new heights.
“We have real confidence in the future of our Belfast services and our Irish Sea routes in general, which is why this region has attracted three brand new ships in the last 12 months alone.”
Stena Embla will make one daily return trip between Belfast and Liverpool. 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.