Interesting moves at Stena Line where their Cairnryan – Belfast Superfast VII and VIII vessels, which appear to be integral to their fleet, actually have now been wholly acquired by Stena, in reality having been on charter from owners Tallink since they were deployed in November 2011.
By all accounts very successful and popular entrants onto the North Channel. The ownership change should make little difference for now, but it must be remembered that four new ferries (and possibly up to eight) are taking shape in China and it is Irish Routes I had understood these were first destined for. Stena can now plan to move the Superfast sisters anywhere in their network and adapt them accordingly. The fallout from the Brexit changes, whatever they may be, will be exercising minds at Stena and other ferry operators and may well impact on ship deployment. Rival ferry companies are not above chartering vessels to each other and there is even a rumour the Chinese new-builds may bear other company liveries if it suits Stena to charter them out.
The Superfast series of ferries are supreme examples of high quality ships that have seen a bewildering series of liveries and routes. I once voiced in these pages doubts whether this investment by Greek principals, which began nearly 20 years ago, was a wise and lucrative one, given that initially at least they didn’t seem to settle on dedicated routes for long. German built, they were a huge investment and seemingly designed for long and fast day and overnight routes. They have since seen numerous adaptations and rebuilds including to the short sea shuttle business, including the English Channel and Stena on the North Channel. But they all seem to be going strong – and all look good – so their success as a concept seems to be in no doubt.