As I write, Stena is due to order four large new passenger-freight ro-ros for North European service from AVIC Shipyard China with an option for another four vessels.
The first four will be for delivery in 2019 and 2020. The new design aims at fuel efficiency and incorporates Stena’s emission reduction and environmental initiatives that have been tried and tested on several existing Stena vessels during the past few years. The vessels will have a capacity of more than 3,000 lane meters in drivethrough mode and will accommodate about 1,000 passengers with the full range of passenger services.
The main engines will be “gas ready”, prepared to be fuelled by either methanol or LNG. Stena states this investment shows their confidence in mixing passenger capacity with freight and through this proposed standardization – they may have eight large identical vessels in the relatively near future – they believe they have secured reliability and flexibility for years to come.
They go on to say they foresee continued growth in short sea services in Northern Europe and, crucially, in ‘many other parts of the world’, going on to say: ”Ferry transportation will play an essential part in shaping tomorrow’s logistics infrastructure if we are to have sustainable societies. Not only is transportation on sea the most environmentally effi cient way of moving goods, it is also infrastructure that provides reliable and speedy logistics with very limited public cost”.
Stena have moved into ferry operation in the Far East in a small way so far, but with this order, they could be intending to push ahead with opening more distant routes and joint ventures in non-European waters. Dan Sten Olsson, Chairman of Stena Line goes on to add : “Through this investment we prepare Stena Line for further growth”.
So their intention is quite clear – they intend to grow outside Europe where competition may not be quite as fi erce and where latent potential and demand is probably there to foster and exploit.
I am sure this must be a good order for Stena and it will put them in very good relations with Chinese government interests. Chinese shipyards and those in Korea are in a generally poor state with great overcapacity and the collapsed oil sector making even their catalogue of existing orders for rigs and platforms shaky. So we can be sure this ferry order is at a keen price for Stena and may lead to future business opportunities in China.
The artists impression shows a smart if unexciting profile reminding me rather of Irish Ferries Ulysses. Stena currently operates 35 vessels on 22 routes in Northern Europe. Some of those are very modern, though others are getting old. Even the fine Stena Superfasts will soon be approaching 20 years old. It is indeed a very varied fleet from a wide spread of yards and a complex mix of fittings and machinery – so standardisation makes a great deal of sense.