Monday, August 20, 2018
Strangford Ferry

Scott Mackey looks at one of the less-known lifeline ferry services in the British Isles, the short but vital link between Portaferry and Strangford across the narrows of Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Operated by the Northern Ireland Executive’s Department for Infrastructure across a treacherous stretch of water with fast flowing currents and hugely varying tidal ranges, the service is the fi rst of two under the department’s management for which a tendering process to build a new vessel was awarded in 2015.

Despite being only around one mile apart, the towns of Portaferry and Strangford are separated by a very dangerous channel, called ‘the narrows’ at the mouth of Strangford Lough, the largest inlet in the British Isles. The rush of the tide through the channel is so strong that Norsemen named it Strang Fiord.

There are records that a ferry in some shape or form has existed since around 1180. For approximately 400 years there has been a ferry service without a break between Portaferry and Strangford with daily sailings taking around eight minutes. The alternative is a road journey of approximately 47 miles and takes about 90 minutes. Strangford can also boast the first steam ferry in Ireland which came into service in 1836 while in 1946 two landing craft that could carry 2 cars and 36 passengers were brought into service. This service was discontinued when one of the craft capsized resulting in the loss of a life and was replaced by a number of small boats providing a passenger only service.

In 1967, the link was adopted by the Government under Down County Council and they ordered a new car ferry to be delivered in 1969 from the Verlome Shipyard in Cork. The Strangford Ferry was launched on 6th September 1969 with capacity for 18 cars and 260 passengers and was joined by the Portaferry Ferry in 1974, a support and backup vessel purchased from a Welsh operator and modified by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Operation of the ferry passed from Down County Council to Downpatrick Division of Roads Service in 1973.

Today, the ferry provides a vital link, connecting the Ards Peninsula to South Down. Approximately 140 school children who live in the Portaferry are use the service to travel to and from school in Downpatrick and many thousands more people rely on the ferry to travel to and from work and carry out their daily business. The ferry is also often used to help the emergency services attend incidents or emergencies on the Ards Peninsula, providing much faster response times for vehicles from Downpatrick than those from Belfast.

An investment of £2.7 million was allocated to provide a new ferry for the route in 2001. The vessel was built by McTay Marine in Bromborough on Merseyside and named Portaferry II replacing the small second hand 1975-built Portaferry Ferry which was sold to an operator in Wexford and relegating the slightly larger Strangford Ferry of 1969 to second ship. The new vessel was the largest and most advanced ever seen on the route and removed a 7.5 tonne weight restriction which was in place for the older vessels. She also boasted increased capacity of 28 cars and 260 passengers. In 2009, the Rachlyn became the passenger only support vessel.

The 1969-built Strangford Ferry was considered to be reaching the end of its economically operational working life so a project was developed in 2014 to procure a replacement vessel due for delivery in 2016. This new ship would also replace the Rachlyn and would be based on the design of the Portaferry II with a maximum payload of 150 tonnes.

In 2015, it was announced that the contract to build the new ship was awarded to Cammell Laird at Birkenhead on Merseyside. The procurement exercise attracted interest from shipyards across Europe and represents an investment of £6.2 million. The new ferry is equipped with the latest technology in terms of marine engineering and ease of maintenance. It also provides a comfortable passenger lounge for the short journey between Strangford and Portaferry.

The design of Strangford II includes significant improvements to access for those with reduced mobility, quieter noise levels both in operation and when lowering the ramps, and reduced emission levels compliant with existing and future emissions regulations. Unlike Portaferry II the new vessel does not have a traditional funnel. Instead she uses a wet exhaust system at the waterline in order to reduce airborne particulate emissions. This also has the effect of reducing noise transmission from the exhausts when compared to a traditional funnel. Additionally, the engines are all equipped with dry exhaust gas silencers to reduce airborne noise, and resilient engine mountings to reduce the transmission of engine vibrations through the structure.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - May 2017 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Nexus

Most Popular

  • Shocking Footage of Australian Live Sheep Trade +

  • Stena Confirms Three E-Flexers for the Irish Sea +

  • W.B. Yeats Further Delayed +

  • The Captain of the AIDAsol +

  • Three Rescued After 21 Days Adrift +

  • 1
  • 2

Top 10 Books and DVDs 2017

Maritime Log

  • Launch of New Ship For Antartic Work +

    The launch party Shortly after noon on July 14, the new polar research ship Sir David Attenborough was launched at the Birkenhead shipyard Read More
  • Barrow Takes Port of the Year Title +

    Barrow Port Barrow has won the prestigious Port of the Year Award at this year’s 10th annual UK Ports Conference in London. Read More
  • Port Air Plan Fights HGV Charge +

    Southampton Port Associated British Ports (ABP) has launched a new air quality strategy setting out its proposals to improve the air quality Read More
  • 100 Firefighters Tackle Ore Carrier Blaze +

    Iron Chieftain More than 100 firefighters were sent to deal with a fire on the self-unloading iron ore carrier Iron Chieftain, 50,587dwt, Read More
  • Focus on Giant Saudi Arabia Complex +

    Ras Al Khair The International Maritime Industries giant shipyard complex at Ras Al Khair, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, will come Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Wartime Wreck Checked For Oil Leak +

    Coimbra In mid-June, the US Coast Guard carried out a special survey to see if a fully-laden tanker sunk by a Read More
  • LNG-Fuel Ferry in Service +

    Spirit of British Columbia The BC Ferries’ Spirit of British Columbia returned to service on June 6 after a major mid-life upgrade which included Read More
  • Three Rescued After 21 Days Adrift +

    Skiathos In June, a Liberian-flag bulk carrier and the US Coast Guard were involved in the rescue of two women and Read More
  • Seabed Mining Venture Starts from California +

    Maersk Launcher The Maersk Group, of Denmark, has ventured into seabed mining. Read More
  • Cranes Boost Capacity of Elizabeth Terminal +

    Zhen Hua 20 Four new giant gantry cranes arrived at APM Terminals at Elizabeth, New York, at the end of April as part Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Giant Collier Third to Trade With Japan +

    Port Kembla The first liquefied natural gas import terminal in New South Wales, Australia, is to be built at Port Kembla by Read More
  • ONE Commitment Enters Service +

    ONE Commitment The first of the magenta-coloured container ships of the Ocean Network Express (ONE) entered service in May. Read More
  • Union Appeals for Jobs at Port Kembla LNG Choice +

    Port Kembla The first liquefied natural gas import terminal in New South Wales, Australia, is to be built at Port Kembla by Read More
  • China Set to Ban Foreign Ships from Breaking Yards +

    Chittagong Shipbreaking Yard China is to ban overseas ships being broken up at its demolition yards from the start of next year. Read More
  • Carnival Wins Conditional Approval for Terminal +

    Brisbane Cruise Terminal Model The plan by the world’s largest cruise ship operator, the Carnival Group, of Miami, to build an Au$158mn cruise terminal Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • F-35 Stealth Fighters Land in UK +

    F-35 British News The first four of Britain’s next generation F-35 Lightning supersonic fighter jets touched down in the United Kingdom Read More
  • Upgrade Planned for Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier +

    Admiral Kuznetsov Russian News Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will be refitted to prolong the warship’s operational life. Read More
  • HMS “Astute” in Cat-And-Mouse Pursuit by Russian Ships +

    HMS Astute British News Ahead of the American led missile strikes against suspected chemical weapon manufacturing plants in Syria in early April, Read More
  • Busy Period for Japanese Navy +

    JS Asahi Japanese News It has been a particularly busy period for the Japanese with a number of new vessels being accepted Read More
  • Historic Port Visit to Vietnam +

    USS Carl Vinson US News In a significant move in March, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson made an historic port Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Condor Looks to the Future +

    Condor Clipper Condor Ferries has faced some speculation in recent months as its owner, Macquarie European Investment Fund 2, winds down and Read More
  • W.B. Yeats Further Delayed +

    W.B. Yeats The delivery of Irish Ferries’ new €144 million cruise ferry W.B. Yeats from German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) has been Read More
  • Stena Confirms Three E-Flexers for the Irish Sea +

    Stena E-Flexer Stena Line has confirmed that the first of its new RoPax ferries currently under construction in China is planned to Read More
  • By Brittany Ferries from Ireland to Spain +

    Connemara As Irish Ferries ramps up its Dublin to Cherbourg service with the arrival of the new purpose-built WB Yeats, Brittany Read More
  • Transport Scotland Buys Northern Isles Ropax Trio +

    Hamnavoe The Hamnavoe, Hrossey and Hjaltland had previously been chartered by Transport Scotland from Royal Bank of Scotland and operated by Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • New Bridge Challenges Melissa +

    Melissa The organisers of the charter barges working from Ipswich are worried by plans to build a road bridge across the Read More
  • German Schooners +

    Thor Heyerdahl Two German schooners based at Hamburg are regularly making voyages under sail with general cargoes across the Atlantic. Read More
  • RFA Pearleaf +

    RFA Pearleaf Thanks to Orkney Image Library for this view of the RFA Pearleaf. Read More
  • Nostalgic for Oil Fuel Depots +

    BP Distributor A collection of fine images of coastal tankers delivering fuel to the Southern Scottish town of Kirkcudbright took my eye. Read More
  • The Benefits of Wheel Spokes +

    Will Everard The Anna (see the print edition for details), like all Dutch craft, has a band around the outside of her Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Kerne Preservation Receives Queens Award for Voluntary Service +

    Steam Tug Kerne I was delighted to hear that in the Queen’s Honours List, published at the beginning of June 2018, the Merseyside Read More
  • UK P&I Launched Safety Competition +

    UK PandI Logo UK P&I Club, a leading provider of P&I insurance and other services to the international shipping community, has launched its Read More
  • Shocking Footage of Australian Live Sheep Trade +

    Awassi Express In May 2018, the future of Australia’s live sheep export trade was again under the spotlight when appalling new footage Read More
  • P&O Ferries Set to Lift Capacity at Teesport +

    Bore Song In May 2018, P&O Ferries announced that it plans to lift capacity on its Zeebrugge-Teesport route by almost 25 per Read More
  • New Generation of RoRo’s by Knud E. Hansen for Grimaldi +

    Grimaldi Hybrid Over many years Knud E. Hansen has been one of the world’s leaders in terms of ship design, with a Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Great Perseverance +

    Meira Behind the construction of every great yacht there is a story and in the building of Meira, it is one Read More
  • Keel Laid for Hapag-Lloyd’s First Expedition Cruise Ship +

    Hanseatic Inspiration A keel-laying ceremony was held on June 20 2017 for Hanseatic Nature, the first of two expedition cruise ships being Read More
  • Superyacht Season - Cannes +

    Numarine 26 XP Loved and hated in equal measure by those who exhibit at the Cannes Yachting Festival, as it is correctly known, Read More
  • Superyacht Season - Southampton +

    Targa 43 OPEN The season begins with Southampton, now celebrating its 50th year which, following the demise of the London Boat Show becomes Read More
  • The Captain of the AIDAsol +

    Nicole Langosch Nicole Langosch has been named captain aboard the AIDAsol, becoming the first female captain in the AIDA Cruises fleet, according Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

South Steyne

"South Steyne" - The Greatest Manly Ferry

Well into the 1930s, Manly Harbour Pool was a popular summer destination for both Sydney-siders and local residents. Read More
Kaskelot

Kaskelot

“Kaskelot” was once a Baltic Trading vessel built in 1948 by one of the world’s most famous shipyards and commissioned Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Tasman Bridge

Tasman Bridge Disaster

Around the world on a minute by minute basis, the vast fleet of cargo ships and tankers go about their Read More
Northern Star

Dr Danny's Diary - Northern Star, 1968

When a good friend from the Shaw Savill Society in the UK, Captain Harry Hignett, recently visited Sydney in November Read More
  • 1
  • 2