Meanwhile; down at Dover, having been the Channel pariahs for far too long, since February, the former SeaFrance and MyFerryLink sisters as predicted have been rostered as the mainstay of DFDS’s operation on the premier Channel crossing.
Cote Des Dunes, ex Rodin and Cote des Flandres, ex Berlioz with Calais Seaways are the DFDS Dover-Calais trio mirroring the three ship DFDS operation between Dover and Dunkerque. The Calais ships between them represent numerous defunct and often short lived liveries and coincidentally, between them, are the remnants of the last days of state controlled shipping on the Channel.
The SeaFrance/MyFerryLink sisters, now run by DFDS, had first operated for the SeaFrance subsidiary of SNCF, French State Railways. Calais Seaways, her ninth name, was delivered from her Belgian builders Boelwerf Temse as the Prins Filip for the Belgian government company Regie voor Maritiem Transport and was the largest ferry on the Channel. But it was not a bridge but the Channel Tunnel that ended the Belgian company which was wound up in ’97 after 151 years of Belgian state owned ferry and mail ships.
Whatever their history, the trio are now looking good and may begin a more consistently good service than they have managed for many years.
With the new trio in being another name hardly a year old may soon disappear: the chartered Malo Seaways, ex Stena Nordica, ex European Ambassador was taken out of Dover-Calais service in February with mechanical issues and after short layup was off to Damen at Dunkerque for repairs. She has, for years, been a stop-gap on various company rosters. It is being reported her charter from Stena to DFDS has not been extended and it looks like she will be off to the Med for at least a year to GNV for their service between the Italian mainland and Sicily, including possibly long distance overnight voyages (not her forte I would have thought) to Genoa and Civitavecchia. She is surely not a natural for these waters being built for the supremely non Med-like North Channel and Irish Sea.
I wish her luck as usual for her moves, but the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy proper is another stretch of water which is sized up for a bridge every few years. The width of the strait is under two miles at its narrowest. Most recently, plans were abandoned in 2009 due to the state of the Italian government’s coffers. It would have had to be designed with earthquakes in mind and the virulently independent minded Sicilians might consider it would detract from their character and culture. Even the inability of the Italian state to prevent organised crime getting involved has been quoted as another nail in its coffin. Nor would it be likely to finish off the long distance ferries. For speed, there are plenty of air-links even for freight and for comfort and environmental factors there are the ferries. So perhaps the time for a bridge or tunnel on the Straits of Messina has possibly been and gone.